Point-of-Care Information Sources Scrutinized

Attention UpToDate and DynaMed users!

The use of online information resources for answering patient-related questions is playing an increasingly important role in the daily practice of clinicians. In fact, the names of these e-resources have become part of most health care providers’ vernacular. Who hasn’t heard of UpToDate, FirstConsult, DynaMed, eMedicine or Clin eguide to name a few?

The overall aim of these resources is to synthesize all available evidence for major clinical topics. Some basic features shared by these clinical point-of-care tools include:

  • Synthesis of current evidence for diagnosis, interventions, and therapy;
  • Designed for rapid consultation at point of patient care;
  • Evidence-based and frequently updated with links to relevant literature;
  • Drug information, ICD coding, patient information, PDA application, and provision for links to electronic health records.

A recent article from BMJ (1) published the results of its findings on the evaluation of five point-of-care information summaries. The study group looked specifically at the speed of updating evidence relevant to medical practice. The article’s conclusion cited DynaMed as the clear leader in updating speed among the field of five information summary tools.

This journal article raised questions among publishers, guideline developers, researchers, and especially clinicians about the quality and timeliness of point-of-care tools: What is the “need for speed”? How quick is too quick? What are the best approaches (priority, time, other?) for inclusion of topics? Is there now a need for an expert panel to set standards for the development of these clinical decision support tools?

This growing list of questions addressing the quality of decision support tools will be the focus at the Evidence 2012 conference, co-hosted by the BMJ Evidence Centre and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) at the University of Oxford.

Time has certainly come to address and assess the relevance and validity of these point-of-care information resources, particularly in terms of quality of content and comprehensiveness. Along with patron input, Dana Medical Library pays close attention to these studies when assessing point of care resources. We will continue to feature such studies in our newsletters and on our home page.

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1. Banzi, R., Cinquini, M., Liberati, A., Moschetti, I., Pecoraro, V., Tagliabue, L., & Moja, L. (2011). Speed of updating online evidence based point of care summaries: prospective cohort analysis. BMJ, 343, d5856.

Nancy Bianchi, MLS