EBMPracticeNet: A Bilingual National Electronic Point-Of-Care Project for Retrieval of Evidence-Based Clinical Guideline Information and Decision Support

JMIR Res Protoc. 2013 Jul 10;2(2):e23. doi: 10.2196/resprot.2644.


Background: In Belgium, the construction of a national electronic point-of-care information service, EBMPracticeNet, was initiated in 2011 to optimize quality of care by promoting evidence-based decision-making. The collaboration of the government, health care providers, evidence-based medicine (EBM) partners, and vendors of electronic health records (EHR) is unique to this project. All Belgian health care professionals get free access to an up-to-date database of validated Belgian and nearly 1000 international guidelines, incorporated in a portal that also provides EBM information from other sources than guidelines, including computerized clinical decision support that is integrated in the EHRs.

Objective: The objective of this paper was to describe the development strategy, the overall content, and the management of EBMPracticeNet which may be of relevance to other health organizations creating national or regional electronic point-of-care information services.

Methods: Several candidate providers of comprehensive guideline solutions were evaluated and one database was selected. Translation of the guidelines to Dutch and French was done with translation software, post-editing by translators and medical proofreading. A strategy is determined to adapt the guideline content to the Belgian context. Acceptance of the computerized clinical decision support tool has been tested and a randomized controlled trial is planned to evaluate the effect on process and patient outcomes.

Results: Currently, EBMPracticeNet is in "work in progress" state. Reference is made to the results of a pilot study and to further planned research including a randomized controlled trial.

Conclusions: The collaboration of government, health care providers, EBM partners, and vendors of EHRs is unique. The potential value of the project is great. The link between all the EHRs from different vendors and a national database held on a single platform that is controlled by all EBM organizations in Belgium are the strengths of EBMPracticeNet.

Keywords: ambulatory care information systems; biomedical technology; clinical; decision support systems; evidence-based medicine; information management; information storage and retrieval; medical informatics; point-of-care systems; practice guidelines as topic.