Information systems: the key to evidence-based health practice

Bull World Health Organ. 2000;78(11):1344-51.


Increasing prominence is being given to the use of best current evidence in clinical practice and health services and programme management decision-making. The role of information in evidence-based practice (EBP) is discussed, together with questions of how advanced information systems and technology (IS&T) can contribute to the establishment of a broader perspective for EBP. The author examines the development, validation and use of a variety of sources of evidence and knowledge that go beyond the well-established paradigm of research, clinical trials, and systematic literature review. Opportunities and challenges in the implementation and use of IS&T and knowledge management tools are examined for six application areas: reference databases, contextual data, clinical data repositories, administrative data repositories, decision support software, and Internet-based interactive health information and communication. Computerized and telecommunications applications that support EBP follow a hierarchy in which systems, tasks and complexity range from reference retrieval and the processing of relatively routine transactions, to complex "data mining" and rule-driven decision support systems.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Information Systems*
  • Internet