Improving healthcare quality requires both knowledge of which clinical actions work and knowledge of how to repeatedly provide those effective clinical actions. Systematically embedding practices that lack evidence for effectiveness and safety may place patients at risk or waste limited resources.
But how do you know if and when a clinical action works? Currently, in the U.S., there are no universal standards to identify evidence based best practice for quality improvement. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) did provide standards for clinical practice guidelines and for the systematic reviews which provide the evidence summary to support guideline development. These standards incorporate epidemiologic research methods which can be applied to best practice identification and testing as well.
This is the first of a multi-post look into evidence based quality improvement which will include some links to resources and tools for organizations on the path toward evidence based quality improvement. For a brief overview and checklist from TheEvidenceDoc to get you started thinking about how to evaluate best practices for effectiveness and safety, click here. It's the first dose in a series to develop your skills and comfort with evidence.