Data science, meet evidence-based medicine

Do you know how data is used in the medical industry? Probably you have some insight, but the actual picture leaves a lot to be desired. In the first half of the 90s, evidence-based medicine or the EBM movement tried to make medicine more data-driven. We have much data today as a result of cumulative experience over different cultures and centuries but not enough transparency or context. In this blog related to data science certification, we cover the fundamentals of evidence-based medicine, data generation through randomized controlled trials, and data access via Cochrane Reviews. We will also see the similarities between best data governance and data science practices and differences because of context, provenance, and metadata. 


Data Science is rightly called the primer to evidence-based medicine. Let’s see how.


Table of contents


  • Data and EBM
  • Evidence-based Medicine
  • What is Cochrane? 
  • Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT)
  • Future Scope


Before going ahead, it is recommended to check out data science training offered by Global Tech Council for an all-round growth as a Data Science expert.


Data and EBM


The science and art of using data to derive insights whose applications are transforming all domains of human activity are known as Data science and analytics. On the other hand, Evidence-based medicine is an uncommon term. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this unknown territory of medicine and epidemiology for situation assessment is found to go long because of critical thinking and data-driven decision-making principles.


For every medical condition, there is a need to know the most recent and best medical condition. A clinical decision-maker needs to choose the best clinical decision that leads to more effective healthcare service and satisfied patients. Thus, there is a requirement for an accurate and fast search process. Following the right EBM methodology is an auto-defense against claims in the court. For knowing about EBM, it is essential to know about the accessible healthcare databases and their structure as well as the data mining process. 


Evidence-based medicine


EBM is a concept introduced by David Sackett at McMaster University in the early 1990s that revolves around making a suitable clinical decision using systematic approval. Here are the few steps of acquiring the best evidence:

 1. Formulating PICOT 


PICOT stands for population, intervention, comparison, outcome, and time. The process is a methodology used for designing a proper search strategy. To track down literature, a research question set in PICOT format is considered an evidence-based approach. 


2. Tracking down the literature


This involves setting a search strategy that includes particular keywords, exclusion, and inclusion criteria. The search is based on keywords and the inclusion criteria, excluding the results that fit the exclusion criteria. 

3.  Searching the Healthcare Research Databases


Databases are collections of dissertations, magazine articles, journals, abstracts, and systematic reviews. The content is organized after being reviewed. The results based on the search strategy that included only one database are not enough. At least two databases need to be considered out of Medline, Embase, Ovid, The Cochrane Collaboration, other databases, and tools. 

4.  Appraising the results


Assessing clinical trial studies is called ‘Critical Appraisal.’ It depends on the internal validity of the study. The search results in EBM are not guaranteed as the qualities of the study is questionable. Systematic reviews such as results from Cochrane Reviews are considered to be most trustable. The outcome of the study must be checked.

5.  Assessing the performance and effectiveness of the process


The whole process must be recorded and monitored from starting. From setting the research question to implementing the suggested guidelines, a close check is required for the best clinical decision.


What is Cochrane?


Cochrane is known as the Google of evidence-based medicine, and it comprises three databases. Before the EBM movement, decisions were made by the most eminent medical college professor. The decision was based on personal clinical judgment and experience. There is no evidence to validate the decisions and their transparency. Today, the movement has gained much momentum, but it comes with its woes. It’s impossible to make every decision by doing searches over Medline as there is so much evidence and so many papers out there. This is where Cochrane steps in. It is an organization and a consortium that has changed over time. It can be seen as a network of physicians and scientists who do systematic reviews. The published reviews carry high standards and constitute quality evidence. Thus, Cochrane is the closest thing to finding answers. 


Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT)


Cochrane Reviews try to pull in the highest quality evidence, usually randomized controlled trials. But what is RCT? Randomized means trying to compare a group that received treatment to a control group that didn’t receive that treatment. The idea is to make the study more generalized by equal and random distribution. This is used to test medication before deciding on its use. An RCT can answer doubts regarding the time required for reducing the severity. These trials are commonly carried out for increasing quality. The results can be trusted because of anonymity and randomization. This is related to how an expert with data science certification works by breaking down parameters influencing an outcome and observing the effects of parameter changes in isolation. It is a very scientific and reliable medicine conducting approach.


Future scope


Evidence-based medicine (EBM) considers clinical research and examination of evidence as a fundamental basis of medical practice. EBM is an intuitively responsible approach that is taught in medical schools and incorporated in practice. It is frequently used to develop clinical practice guidelines as clinicians cannot appraise after finding original research themselves. Clinical medicine is complex, and EBM doesn’t provide easy answers to severe problems. Data scientists are finding ways to incorporate EBM into continually changing health care systems. You can sign up for a data science certificate online if you wish to work for the same!