Blog for the World EBHC Day
World Evidence-Based Healthcare (EBHC) Day is held on 20 October each year. It is a global initiative that raises awareness of the need for better evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice and decision making in order to improve health outcomes globally.
This year’s campaign, ‘Partnerships for purpose’, draws attention to the innovative and collaborative partnership initiatives within and across the global evidence ecosystem. It seeks to raise awareness, stimulate debate, and shine a light on best practice in the science and art of working in partnership. The campaign for World EBHC Day 2022 focuses on partnerships for purpose and how partnerships within and across the global evidence ecosystem work to bridge research, policy and practice, and realise the potential of evidence-based healthcare.
We attended the World EBHC Day call to share experiences and collective wisdom around the formation, development, maintenance, evaluation and outcomes of partnerships in evidence-based healthcare, by submitting a blog.
We invite you to read it here:
PARTNERSHIPS MAKE EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS SUSTAINABLE
There is a saying that goes: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. However, for the COVID-19 pandemic we had to go fast and far.
In late 2019, the Epistemonikos Foundation launched L·OVE (Living OVerview of Evidence), a free-of-charge repository and classification platform. It is connected to the Epistemonikos database, which is a multilingual resource that provides access to systematic reviews and broad combinations of reviews and primary studies in healthcare. As the pandemic started, we developed a L·OVE for COVID-19: the COVID-19 L·OVE.
It rapidly became clear that retrieving and synthesising COVID-19 evidence as fast as it was needed was not a challenge we could tackle on our own. As of July 2022, researchers have registered more than 4300 clinical trials related to COVID-19 (according to COVID-NMA), but most of them are too small or poorly designed to support decision-making. Organisations all over the world have struggled to synthesise the growing body of evidence on COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic; however, many of the syntheses generated are also of poor quality, repetitive and quickly go out of date. Lack of collaboration continues to fuel duplication of effort and documents, increasing the well-known waste in healthcare research.
After the launch of the COVID-19 L·OVE, we reached out for partners who shared our mission: assist people in making decisions for clinical or health policy by providing easy-to-use, evidence-based information. The COVID-19 L·OVE has enabled our participation in major international COVID-19 living projects, which has also allowed other teams to validate the completeness and currency of this software; Pierre et al. (2022) and Butcher et al. (2022) are just two examples. In other words, we have been able to go fast and far, without compromising rigour and trustworthiness.
The COVID-19 L·OVE serves as an input for a wide variety of projects, such as COVID-NMA, COVID LNMA, Therapeutics and COVID-19, Ongoing Living Update of Potential COVID-19 Therapeutics Options, Pharmacovigilance for COVID-19 Vaccines, COVID-19 Recommendations and Scientifically Proven.
Even though we have celebrated successful collaborations – most of which are still ongoing – we have encountered difficulties too. Some of the challenges we faced are common to organisations working towards the automation of the evidence synthesis process and were reviewed in Khalil et al. (2022). These include the acceptance of automation technologies, the time-consuming training in a new tool and the transparency of the ‘black box’ nature of many technologies. It is also a challenge to introduce the culture of data sharing in a competitive environment where publishing first still matters, even in the context of a pandemic.
We believe that partnerships, the openness of our resources, the continuous user assistance from our team and the ability to learn from past experiences have allowed us to overcome most of the challenges faced. Through the collaborations with the COVID-19 L·OVE during the pandemic, we learned that methods, tools and processes must be thorough, transparent and flexible for a wide diversity of teams and their specific needs. As the evidence synthesis community keeps growing, so does the diversity of users and teams. We have had the chance to work with teams involving not only methodologists, but also health professionals, academics and user-experience designers.
Achieving sustainable knowledge
We intend to use the COVID-19 L·OVE as reference for future collaborative projects on other topics, and as one of the main elements for our vision of sustainable knowledge. This concept is one we are working on at the Epistemonikos Foundation to reduce waste in evidence synthesis. We are working to develop technologies to safely share data, through which teams can confidently rely on the work made by others, as well as on the decisions suggested by the algorithms. This vision of a flexible, web-based, all-in-one platform for sustainable knowledge would also allow users to generate rapid, living evidence products and to freely connect their preferred tools with the Epistemonikos toolbox.
As we have been refining this concept, it has been clear that the learning we gain from partnerships is key. So, in order to achieve sustainable knowledge, we will maintain our partnerships, work to make them stronger and be open to new ones. We encourage you to do the same.