The Internet and Evidence-Based Decision Making: A Needed Synergy for Efficient Knowledge Management in Health Care

Alejandro R. JADAD <>
McMaster University


The role of knowledge and information technology in health care decisions is full of opportunities, paradoxes, and gaps. We have tools with unprecedented power, but we cannot communicate efficiently. We are producing unparalleled amounts of information but are drowning in that information, information that we do not have time to find, to read, to understand, or to apply. At no other time in history has it been so crucial to bridge the yawning gaps between what we should know and what we do know, between what we think we should do and what we really do in health care. If we fail to bridge these gaps, most clinicians, patients, educators, learners, researchers, policy makers, and other members of society may never benefit from the information that could best guide their decisions in health care.

The need to handle knowledge in efficient and responsible ways is what motivates the supporters of evidence-based decision making (EBDM), a process that involves the explicit, conscientious, and judicious consideration of the best current evidence to guide health care decisions.

The main purpose of this presentation is to postulate that if the Internet is to reach its full potential and contribute to improved health and health care, its development must benefit from a powerful, two-way, and efficient synergy with EBHC. The Internet could benefit EBDM by providing decision makers with cheap, fast, and efficient access to up-to-date, valid, and relevant knowledge at the right time, at the right place, in the right amount, and in the right format. Conversely, the tools and principles of EBHC could be used to gain a better understanding of the role of the Internet in health and health care, helping us anticipate opportunities and prevent potential problems associated with its use.

Opportunities and challenges for this synergy will be discussed.

Suggested reading

Jadad A. The Internet and evidence-based health care: a needed partnership to cope with information overload. He@lth Information on the Internet. Wellcome Trust and Royal Society of Medicine, UK. 1998; June: 6-8. []

Jadad AR. Promoting partnerships: challenges for the Internet age. BMJ 1999; 319: 761-4. []

The full paper was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal as

Jadad AR, Haynes RB, Hunt D, Browman GP. The Internet and evidence-based decision-making: a needed partnership for efficient knowledge management in health care. CMAJ 2000; 162:362-5 [].