Doctor using tablet in hallway
HealthJune 25, 2020

Better evidence: Essential gear to practice

Access to clinical evidence and tools to save lives is not universal any more than personal protective equipment (PPE) or COVID-19 testing kits. Current challenges show in a sobering way how clinicians across the world battle care in a connected way.

Much has been said about the “challenges on the frontline.” What COVID-19 exposed is the pressure physicians, nurses and pharmacists face every day when they have a patient in front of them and how hard it is when the disease that is constantly changing.

Sometimes science has not caught up, symptoms are murky or there is a new infectious disease or condition surfacing somewhere that clinicians are trying to diagnose, treat and evaluate. More often clinicians struggle to find trustworthy knowledge that is actionable, evidence-based and at their fingertips no matter where they practice or who they are asked to treat. More than 2.5 million published research studies annually, a number growing exponentially since the COVID-19 outbreak.

This pandemic is a reminder that there’s tremendous expertise that’s globally distributed

More than a decade ago, a program was born to positively impact public health and support clinicians by providing better evidence — essential gear to drive better outcomes. “The failure to deliver the care we know how to deliver causes more harm than lack of access to care,” said Rebecca Weintraub, MD, Director, Better Evidence, Ariadne Labs. “We launched Better Evidence in 2009 to ensure front line providers can access and integrate digital tools to improve their diagnostic accuracy and clinical management. Longitudinal usage of these digital tools will improve health outcomes. The result is better medical care for all.”

Since the beginning of the program, more than 20,000 qualified healthcare professionals in 145 countries have received free access to UpToDate, bringing evidence-based diagnostic assistance to the places that need it most—a step toward more equitable care around the world. As a result, 22.5 million patients receive care by donation recipients every year.

In Uganda, one clinician recounts a story of how this access helped to stop a potential pandemic a year ago: “We had a patient arrive with high fever and general body aches, soon followed by skin bruising and epistaxis. We used Better Evidence to look at the possible differential diagnosis and suspected hemorrhagic fever. We had no experience with this disease before and would not have recognized it without the help of the tool. The Ugandan authorities were alerted – and this case was diagnosed as the first case of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Uganda in the past four years. Following the quick diagnosis, the source of the infection was traced, and an epidemic was prevented."

“We had a mission-driven organization that wanted to provide UpToDate to those who needed it.,” said Peter Bonis, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Clinical Effectiveness, Wolters Kluwer, Health. “We were two sides of the same coin. We each offered what the other didn’t. A partnership was born immediately.”

Learn more about the impact of the Better Evidence collaboration

To learn more about the impact of the Better Evidence collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, read the full article in the Harvard Public Health magazine.

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