As concerns over high quality affordable healthcare in the US increase, the importance of following evidence-based medicine guidelines is greater than ever. Rather than a traditional approach where little input is required from the patient in regards to which health care decisions are most appropriate, patient values and preferences are considered essential before a treatment regimen is selected with evidence based medicine. When combined with the best medical evidence currently available as well as the expertise of the medical professional administering care, evidence-based medicine guidelines can be successfully implemented to improve the overall quality of healthcare while simultaneously lowering costs.
Patient Input is Essential in Evidence Based Medicine
Previously, many patients with particular symptoms may have undergone an array of tests and treatments with little individual input; for example, an elderly man with a prostrate cancer diagnosis may have been more or less funneled through the chemotherapy process regardless of other relevant factors in his life. In some cases, a patient, if informed of the benefits and risks of a particular treatment, may elect to avoid the procedure or use an alternate. Naturally, one would hope that all doctor-patient interactions involve education and patient input, yet real life resource restrictions, particularly the limited amount of time medical professionals have to discuss details with each patient, make following this aspect of evidence based medicine more challenging than it could be. In order to help your physician apply the rules of evidence-based medicine, you may wish to ask the following questions at your next visit:
- What are the possible side effects of this particular test or treatment option? Am I at a greater risk than other groups for any complications?
- Are there other testing or treatment options available? If so, are there any that may be safer or more cost effective?
- Are there lifestyle changes I could make that may improve my condition? Have any alternative treatment methods been tested for my condition?
- How can I learn more about what is happening within my body?
In order for evidence-based medicine to be effective, patients must take a more active role in their own care. Although most trust the judgment of a medical professional over their own knowledge base, understanding the time constraints of most doctors brings the responsibility of questioning back to the patient. With clear communication, doctors and patients can learn to work together more effectively, increasing the satisfaction of all involved.
New Medical Advances Are Occurring Faster Than Ever
In addition to being limited in the amount of time to dedicate to each patient, doctors today are faced with the impossible situation of staying up to speed with the latest advances in medical discoveries. Medical journals continuously reveal the most up to date information in regards to which treatment regimen shows the best promise for each condition, yet the time invested in reading those studies would prevent the doctor's true work with patients themselves. In order to help physicians best meet the needs of each patient, evidence-based medicine guidelines encourage the use of standardized, evidenced based protocols to help each physician stay current with the latest medical research.
Clinical Expertise is Invaluable For High Quality Patient Care
The clinical expertise of each medical professional is the third aspect of evidence-based medicine; a patient suffering from chronic ear infections works with an ENT specialist, for example, rather than a cardiologist. Years of clinical observations often allow a physician to complete the majority of a diagnosis without expensive testing procedures, reducing health care costs and the discomfort of certain procedures. Still, some of the greatest advances in modern medicine have come about through the use of technological screening devices which are far more sensitive than humans at detecting the early signs of physical illness; again, the clinical expertise of each professional can help guide a patient towards which procedures are most appropriate.
Adopting Evidence-Based Medicine Guidelines Makes Physician Accountability Easier
The use of evidence-based medicine guidelines has been proven to reduce healthcare costs while improving the overall level of care each patient receives, as well as improving their long term outcome. Although it may take some adjustments on the part of the physician, the requirements to slow down the pace of each consultation are being enforced through new insurance regulations which require greater accountability and explanation on the part of the professional with regard to why a particular treatment regimen has been chosen. With the help of evidence-based medicine guidelines, creating a clearly documented trail showing how decisions were made each step of the way becomes much more simple.
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