Whether you’re training to become a healthcare professional or you’re a veteran of the industry, you’re likely to be frequently using evidence based practice medicine. It’s an essential way for ensuring that patients always receive the best level of care with their situation in mind.

What is evidence based practice medicine?

Evidence based medicine, or EBM, is an approach to optimise the multitude of decisions healthcare professionals have to make on a regular basis. EBM aims to ensure that the decisions taken are based on reliable, up to date research, reflecting how quickly medical care can change.

It’s an approach that’s important to all healthcare fields, from doctors making decisions about the treatment a patient will receive to policymakers considering industrywide changes. EBM places an emphasis on using scientific research that’s relevant to those in your care and have the understanding to know when they should be applied to your patients to influence decisions, taking into account the patient’s individual needs, values, and interests.

Why is it used?

EMB is widely used because it’s an effective way to make decisions. It takes into account that there is often a collection of studies with a differing range of patients – urging healthcare professionals to select those that are most relevant to their decision. For example, two patients that have the same conditions could benefit the most from widely different treatment courses due to their age, with aggressive but effective treatment preferred for a young person while someone who is elderly may obtain a better quality of life by not having treatment at all.

The EMB approach takes the information found in trials, research, and studies and applies the results to be effectively used in a clinical practice setting. It bridges the gap between research and action to deliver improved outcomes to patients.

While EMB is regarded as the gold standard of clinical practice and used widely, there are, of course, limitations too. Recognising the criticism the approach faces gives practitioners an opportunity to reduce or mitigate them. For example, how well EMB works depends directly on the quality of research that it’s based on, which can contain bis, conflict of interests, or simply inaccuracies. There’s often a significant lag between when the research is conducted and published, meaning it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to be working in line with the latest best practices in mind.