Teaching Evidence-Based Medicine: Should We Be Teaching Information Management Instead?

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Abstract

To encourage high-quality patient care guided by the best evidence, many medical schools and residencies are teaching techniques for critically evaluating the medical literature. While a large step forward, these skills of evidence-based medicine are necessary but not sufficient for the practice of contemporary medicine. Incorporating the best evidence into the real world of busy clinical practice requires the applied science of information management. Clinicians must learn the techniques and skills to focus on finding, evaluating, and using information at the point of care. This information must be both relevant to themselves and their patients as well as being valid. The authors discuss the need to teach the applied science of information management along with, or perhaps even instead of, teaching the basic science of evidence-based medicine. All students, residents, and practicing physicians need three skills to practice the best medicine: the ability to select foraging—“keeping up”—tools that filter information for relevance and validity, the skill to select and use a hunting—“just in time”—information tool that presents prefiltered information easily and in a quickly accessible form at the point of care, and the ability to make decisions by combining the best patient-oriented evidence with patient-centered care, placing the evidence in perspective with the needs and desires of the patient. This teaching of information management skills will prepare students and residents for a practice of medicine that requires lifelong learning.

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