We now live in a world of “Evidence-Based Healthcare” or “EBH”. It’s a hot topic of conversation, especially surrounding all of the political debates of ObamaCare. What is EBH? Well, for the patient, it’s supposed to be the intersection of (1) physician experience, (2) patient values (i.e. their choice of care based on what they believe is best for them), and (3) the “scientific evidence” based on publishes studies in the peer reviewed literature. These would be studies that you hear about in the news, like studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine. I placed “scientific evidence” in quotes because of the challenges we face regarding this third component.
Now, not only am I a firm believer in the need for basic-science and clinical research, I’ve been a healthcare researcher for over 20 years (http://www.ssrehab.com/category/whats-new/ssrcrf/). It’s important to understand, however, the political and financial/commercial environment in which much of the healthcare data is being produced. To get a small, but important glimpse of the healthcare research environment, watch this TED video from physician Ben Goldacre, MD (http://huff.to/15uUKIU).
The next time you go to your doctor, it’s important to ask the following: (1) What evidence exists that this recommendation will work for me? (2) What evidence exists that this recommendation will NOT work for me? and (3) What are other proven options that may work for me, both based on the published science and the physician’s clinical experience? If we are truly in the era of “Patient-Centered Care”, then not only should your physician answer these questions, your physician should expect them! Be assertive, ask the right questions and take control of your health and well-being!