Using Technology to Advance Evidence-based Practice
Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN
Associate Editor, Worldviews on Evidence-based Nursing
New technologies are being rapidly developed and used to speed the translation of evidence into practice, enhance education, and improve healthcare systems and patient outcomes. However, despite the explosion of technology and studies that have been conducted in the field, there are few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to determine the efficacy of technology-based interventions in healthcare and education. Therefore, we have two major challenges regarding technology’s use in healthcare systems today: the need to generate a sound body of evidence from rigorously designed trials regarding technology’s efficacy and cost-effectiveness and, once the evidence is generated, the urgency of translating that evidence rapidly into real world clinical practice settings in order to improve healthcare quality and patient outcomes.
When intervention studies are conducted, many do not include outcomes that the healthcare system is most concerned about (e.g., cost, sentinel events, medical errors) that will heavily influence adoption of the interventions once supported to be efficacious through rigorous research. Including outcomes in experimental studies that most heavily influence adoption of evidence-based interventions, otherwise referred to as the “so what” factors, is critical in accelerating the translation of research-based interventions into clinical practice.
We must never forgot that the ultimate purpose of conducting research and engaging in EBP is not for the sake of engaging in an academic exercise or becoming successful with publication, but it is for the ultimate purpose of improving the outcomes and lives of our patients and students.
Technology can assist us in achieving these goals.