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Elsevier Health: Improving access to evidence-based information

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Louise Chang is the global vice president of clinical solutions, content strategy and partnerships at health information and analytics company Elsevier Health.

The company’s mission is to help researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society.

But what does that mean in practical terms? Health Tech World spoke to Chang about the ‘infodemic’, access to the right information and how Elsevier Health is leading the way forward.

What does Elsevier Health mean by the term ‘infodemic’?

To us, the infodemic means the presence of too much information, which can lead to the spread of misinformation that is unreliable, inaccurate and not evidence based.

We are living in an age of ever-increasing information in healthcare, and the sheer scale of this can lead to issues.

Managing and processing too much information can lead to confusion, uncertainty and misinformation. This issue has been apparent for a while and has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Improving access to evidence-based information to take on the infodemic’ is one of Elsevier Health’s ‘Five Pillars to Shape the Future of Health that we are using to guide our actions for the future.

Can clinicians ever have too much information?

Although the expansion of knowledge and information in healthcare is positive, it is vital that data and technology enable clinicians to have access to relevant, evidence-based information when they need it to make accurate clinical decisions.

We believe that by providing trusted, evidence-based information that is accessible when needed, will help clinicians make care decisions that have the most potential to improve patient outcomes.

Isn’t the ability to rapidly parse, précis then act on critical data more beneficial than becoming submerged in deep – arguably academic – analysis?

There is a benefit and need for a variety of data in healthcare.

Elsevier Health supports clinicians across the entire spectrum, from learning and studying in the early days of their careers through to making bedside point-of-care (POC) decisions, clinical research and all scenarios in between.

Knowledge is constantly evolving in healthcare, and so are the demands on clinicians. The level of detail and depth required from a knowledge base depends on the use case and can vary.

What is clear, however, is that clinicians operating in today’s world need support for multiple uses.

Findings from our recent Clinician of the Future global report reinforce the need for clinicians to embrace technology, with those surveyed agreeing that technological literacy will be the most important capability to have in 10 years’ time.

Describe your model ‘Clinician of the Future’.

Our Clinician of the Future global report engaged with nearly 3,000 clinicians from 111 countries to understand what healthcare will look like in the next decade and what healthcare professionals feel are the real challenges that need to be addressed.

According to our report, the model clinician of the future has five core components that cover the evolving patient relationship, moving to a preventive approach to care, adapting to a digital first mindset, building new models of care in delivery, and protecting the healthcare workforce through support and training.

A Partner for Health: Working in partnership with their patients, they will be adept at utilising health data and advanced clinical insights to make informed decisions. They will communicate with patients in a variety of ways, from limited virtual check-ins to in-person consultations at patients’ homes.

A Total Health Clinician: They will get a head-start on health, taking a preventive approach and working with people to enable them to manage their own mental and physical health before they become ill.

A Tech-Savvy Clinician: They will work in a system that is dependent on digital technology. Day to day, most of their consultations will be virtual, and they will use interoperable digital health software to manage patient communication, maintain patient records and help them make clinical decisions.

A Future Balanced Clinician: With global clinician shortages putting pressure on their time, the clinician of the future will have a challenging workload. When work pressure affects their mental wellbeing, they will lean on support systems, including digital technologies and they will be part of peer support groups.

A Future Accessible Clinician: They will be part of a more equitable healthcare system, focused on ensuring everyone is able to live a long, healthy life. Their workplace will extend from traditional settings to patients’ homes and community centres, helping them reach vulnerable populations.

Some may suggest the ‘Five Pillars to Shape the Future of Health’ would also influence purchases of Elsevier Health’s informatics/data analytics products and services? What is your response to this suggestion?

We have undertaken extensive global research with healthcare providers and educators, which has helped to identify the ‘Five Pillars to Shape the Future of Health’, that will guide Elsevier Health’s actions for the future.

Louise Chang

These themes are also reflected in our Clinician of the Future global report, relating to the needs identified by clinicians in a rapidly evolving landscape, where data and technology are changing how we engage and deliver care.

Our pillars focus on improving access to evidence-based information to tackle the infodemic; preparing more future health professionals with effective tools and resources; providing data-driven insights that improve patient outcomes; delivering healthcare that is truly inclusive; and supporting a more personalised and localised healthcare experience.

How, in practical terms, can Elsevier Health make healthcare more ‘inclusive’?

To effectively address health inequities, the products and services that health services rely on need to address barriers to care, so that every patient has equal access.

Elsevier Health wants to contribute to inclusivity in healthcare in two different ways.

First, through the products we build, we ensure that each of them has the opportunity to improve inclusivity and reduce health inequalities.

For example, our subsidiary 3D4Medical recently launched the first ever complete 3D representation of the female anatomy, helping to create greater parity in our understanding of female and male bodies.

Second is by building an inclusive culture to drive diversity.

Elsevier Health does this is through supporting our employees with 35 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) across five diversity dimensions that drive company culture and policy, as well as inclusive hiring guidance and management training to eliminate unconscious bias and foster a more diverse and inclusive culture.

How crucial is a clinician’s empathy with a patient during a clinical encounter? Surely patients simply want to know what precisely is wrong with them and which effective treatment(s) are available? How will telehealth impact clinicians’ ‘bedside manner’?

While delivery of diagnosis and treatment is essential – human interaction is also important for patients and clinicians.

Eighty two per cent of clinicians surveyed in our Clinician of the Future global report agreed that soft skills such as listening and being empathetic have become increasingly important among clinicians in the last decade.

We do not yet know the full impact that telehealth will have, however about half of the clinicians surveyed in the report believe that it will negatively impact their ability to demonstrate empathy with patients.

While we continue to adapt to the new “living with COVID” status and the ongoing role of telehealth in care, we need to learn how and when to use this model of care delivery and provide clinicians with the tools to effectively provide care in all areas.

Find out more about Elsevier Health and the trends shaping the future of healthcare here.

You can download Elsevier Health’s Clinician of the Future report in full here.

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