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Bridges between Health Care Research Evidence and Clinical Practice

R. Brian Haynes , Robert S. A. Hayward , Jonathan Lomas
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jamia.1995.96157827 342-350 First published online: 1 November 1995

Abstract

Research is producing increasing amounts of important new evidence for health care, but there is a large gap between what this evidence shows can be done and the care that most patients actually receive. An important reason for this gap is the extensive processing that evidence requires before application. This article discusses a three-step model for bridging research evidence to management of clinical problems: getting the evidence straight, formulating evidence-based clinical policies, and applying evidence-based clinical policies at the right place and time. This model is purposely broad in scope and provides a framework for coordinating efforts to support evidence-based medical care. The authors' purpose is to represent the roles of health informatics in the context of the roles of all the key players, including health care researchers and practitioners, health care organizations, and the public. Health informatics has already made important contributions to bridging evidence to practice, including improving evidence retrieval, evaluation, and synthesis; new evidence-based information products; and computerized aids for facilitating the use of these products during clinical decision making. However, much more innovation and coordination are needed. The authors call for health informaticians to pay balanced attention to 1) the quality of evidence embodied in information innovations, 2) the performance of technologies and systems that retrieve, prepare, disseminate, and apply evidence, and 3) the fit of information tools to the specific clinical circumstances in which evidence is to be applied. Effective interdisciplinary teams that include health services researchers and other evidence experts, clinical practitioners, informaticians, and health care managers are needed to achieve success. Informaticians can make increasingly important contributions to the transfer of health care research by joining such teams.