Medical knowledge war: too much information, too little time

In recent years, the volume of new medical research has soared. How can clinicians sift through the information for trusted, actionable findings?

The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent fallout across all industries has been unprecedented in recent times. Its impact has extended to the scientific research world, with a staggering 87,000 papers published from the start of the pandemic in January 2020 to October, according to an Ohio State University study.

Scientists are racing to fill the knowledge gap created by this unpredictable foe. Each variant that emerged left urgent questions, such as its transmission ability, severity of disease caused and best treatment plan. This is similar for research into other types of diseases, where numerous studies are being conducted and new findings emerge ever so often. However, the overload of information has made it difficult for busy clinicians to pinpoint the exact ones they need, and also keep abreast of the latest findings, which could have overturned findings published previously.

Conscious of the magnitude of the problem, AI developers have joined in the fray to develop tools – leveraging on natural-language processing technology – that will allow for quicker sifting through of literature, such as one project by the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to sort through COVID-19 studies; but such efforts are still works in progress.

Need for a trusted source of knowledge

While there is often keen urgency for medical information and findings, there is also the need to balance speed with scientific rigour. For example, as of June 2021, over 100 papers on COVID-19 have been retracted. In such scenarios, rather than helping to bridge the knowledge gap, research could instead lead to misinformation and confusion amongst clinicians. In addition, the global demand for information meant that at times findings in very early stages of research were publicised, which makes it even harder for the public and clinicians alike to figure out whether a piece of information is trustable or conclusive.

Against this backdrop, it is important for clinicians and frontline healthcare workers to have access to a trusted, updated source of information, which ensures they make the best care decisions for their patients. It is not enough to simply give clinicians the research papers to digest, but rather a resource that synthesises the latest available evidence into actionable knowledge, which eventually guides clinical decision making.

Join the HMA Expert Panel Event

Hospital Management Asia will be bringing together an expert panel of hospital leaders, to discuss how the hospital community can address the ‘infodemic’ of misinformation while ensuring access to trusted, accurate information. On July 14, 2-3pm (Singapore Time, GMT +8), join the conversation on how to:

  1. Leverage health resources to improve decision-making and clinical effectiveness
  2. Quickly identify trusted sources of information amongst the ‘deluge’ of clinical information
  3. Share clinical information with patients to improve engagement and health outcomes

Don’t miss the chance to hear from our expert panel, namely:

  • Prof. Korpong Rookkapan, MD, Chief Operating Officer; VitalLife & Esperance / Holistic Medicine Officer; Bumrungrad & VitalLife / Advisor to Chief Medical Officer; Bumrungrad International
  • Dr Helen Garcia, Chief Quality Officer, St Luke’s Hospital Global City, Philippines
  • Dr Sumariyono, Medical Director, Rumah Sakit dr Cipto Mungunkusumo, Indonesia
  • Krishna Ayagari, Vice President Embedded Solutions & Partnerships, Wolters Kluwer Health

Access to the event is free. Click here now to register.