Evidence-based practice centers spur healthcare innovation

Hospital evidence-based practice centers can help healthcare systems develop solutions before national guidelines exist, a study published by the Journal of Hospital Medicine finds.

The study, which researchers say is the first comprehensive look at the role of such centers in informed decision-making, also finds that the centers can improve quality and safety and cut costs while promoting a hospital culture of evidence-based practice, according to an announcement by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Researchers concluded that the centers and their studies also improve relationships between clinicians and administrators.

The study looked at Penn Medicine's Center for Evidence-Based Practice, which produced nearly 250 reports over eight years. They were requested most frequently by clinical departments, chief medical officers and purchasing committees. Most of the studies looked at drugs and medical devices, but the researchers found the center also looked at care processes, organizational systems and policies, and medical and surgical procedures.

Among the review were evaluations of the effectiveness and safety of drugs for treating pain following joint replacement surgery, automated systems to monitor staff hand hygiene, and care management for patients with gastrointestinal bleeding. The average report was completed in two or three months; more than 10 percent resulted in computerized electronic health record interventions.

Nearly all of the report requestors responding to the survey said the review met their expectations, with three-quarters saying the reports confirmed their initial theories.

Other hospitals also report success using evidence-based care models.

Kennedy Health System in New Jersey reduced sepsis and its complications, including mortality, by using an evidence-based care model to constantly review data from multiple departments and implement new processes. The project shifted hospital culture away from blame and punishment toward collaboration and joint action.

One way to incorporate evidence-based care into clinical settings is to promote a robust set of competencies for registered nurses and advanced practice nurses (APNs) to follow, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Evidence-based practice mentors recommended RNs develop competencies including questioning clinical practices to improve care and monitoring data assessing the effectiveness of new processes. Meanwhile, various leadership strategies such as creating a supportive culture for evidence-based practice are considered key for APNs.

 For more information:
- see the study abstract
- read the Penn Medicine announcement