Practicing Evidence-Based Medicine

By | November 6, 2019

As we focus on delivering value, and decreasing waste, clinical appropriateness needs to be considered on a daily basis. Unfortunately, much variation is due to the lack of health care providers following evidence-based guidelines. There are various reasons this occurs, including a lack of consensus between medical societies, ease of disseminating new information when it is published, as well as allotted time to learn new or revised information.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), established by a panel of independent and volunteer national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine has a mission to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations concerning clinical preventive services. Also, a core value of their mission is vivid communication and successful dissemination of its recommendations. Though their communications are comprehensive, the incorporation of their findings is not optimal. Thus, they recently underwent a process of listening to the “voice of the customer”; because of this, they are altering their reports consistent with the feedback they received.

One of the primary findings is the fact that clinicians read the “top-line” recommendations and not the rest of the publication. Knowing this, the task force is refocusing the utilization of everyday language and making the recommendations easier to understand. Furthermore, the length of the documents is a barrier, as there is a large amount of repetition within the body. Therefore, they will be highlighting the Summary of Recommendations by enhancing the formatting and color-coding the letter grade along with concise text of the recommendation. All focused on getting clear communication of changes and recommendations to the providers who need it.

Additionally, they are in the process of reformatting the rationale narrative paragraphs into a structured table for easier readability. Further, streamlining is occurring to avoid repetition and extraneous details. Lastly, they are combining sections and simplifying headings.

So why are they changes so important for the task force? The USPSTF is a trusted source of evidence-based medicine, and with its mission, the goal is not just to share information, but disseminate it in a manner that is easily consumed. Kudos to the task force for continuously refining not only their content but also the presentation of the information. As communication is key to the sharing of knowledge, their approach is worth mentioning. We must continually focus on not only what we need to be doing to serve better those that entrust us but also focus on its execution. Hats off to the USPSTF for its commitment to regular review of its methods and processes to better fulfill its mission of disseminating evidence-based clinical preventive services. It is now our turn to listen and implement.