Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a tailored, holistic approach to healthcare. Professionals using this approach use proven and relevant evidence, clinical expertise and patient values regarding patient care to improve outcomes and quality of care. There are many benefits of evidence-based practice, including changing outdated policies and cutting costs. Nurses are in the unique position of implementing and creating EBP strategies. They can advocate the importance of evidence-based practice so future nursing professionals can benefit from it. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for nurses to understand the importance of EBP.
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Understanding evidence-based practice
The process of drawing information from relevant scientific evidence to create patient care strategies is known as an evidence-based practice. It is a holistic process that combines the expertise of a healthcare professional with patient preferences and scientific research. These three elements come together in clinical practice to make informed decisions related to care delivery. Each of these three elements is important and adds to the overall patient experience. Nurses can rely on scientific literature and studies as well as data generated within the organization to pull data. Practiced nurses can also use their own expertise to create an EBP strategy that is effective. Nurses can utilize their training, essential skills and professional experience. The perspective of patients can also be very valuable to EBP. Their personal priorities, expectations and values can be combined with current scientific knowledge to create a patient care guideline that honors and respects the patient. For a true evidence-based practice, each of these three elements must be present. Without even one of these, there can be information gaps that can negatively impact the care delivery and quality.
The importance of evidence-based practice
Evidence-based practice is important not just for patients, but also for nurses. Healthcare professionals such as nurses can develop a set of best practices when treating diseases and illnesses. This can reduce treatment variation and improve recovery and patient outcomes. Treatments for various conditions may vary based on differences in training and location. Evidence-based practices bring together practices and treatments that are most commonly used and supported by scientific evidence to help patients successfully recover. Evidence-based practices are verified and are widely used by medical professionals around the world. This increases the chances of success when incorporating these treatment plans.
Incorporating EBP techniques helps nurses by increasing their ability to deliver effective and safe treatments recommended by experienced medical professionals. Care methods and treatments that have already been deemed successful, safe and effective mean that nurses will be able to treat patients successfully and avoid post-care complications. For nurses, it is important to take the time to stay updated with emerging treatments for illnesses and examine the evidence and research before they treat patients.
Reduced costs with evidence-based practice
Healthcare organizations that apply evidence-based practice in their care delivery have found that this practice reduces costs for organizations and patients. EBP practices streamline and standardize care. This reduces the chances of unnecessary procedures and treatments. When treatment plans are standardized, nurses are less likely to use extraneous therapies or medications for patients that may not need them. For patients, this reduces their treatment costs. Healthcare organizations benefit from the reduced costs of additional tests and treatments that may not be needed. In the US, healthcare costs are rising exponentially every year. Evidence-based practice can help reduce costs effectively for patients.
Healthcare professionals and hospitals can also reduce the waste of resources and time through this approach. Patients are very savvy today when it comes to choosing their own treatment and care. The decisions they make should be taken into consideration by medical professionals. One of the main reasons that evidence-based practices are so important is because they reduce treatment complications. In most cases, complications from treatment are unpreventable and random. They can sometimes be due to the use of incorrect treatments. In these situations, complications can be avoided. Evidence-based practice models help avoid these complications. This ultimately leads to reduced healthcare costs and less strain on the healthcare system.
Advantages of evidence-based practice
One of the main reasons that so many colleges and universities delivering nursing programs focus on evidence-based practices is that it has immense benefits for nurses and patients. Here are some of the main advantages of adopting evidence-based practice in nursing:
It empowers nurses
Nurses that are trained in using evidence-based practices are confident and empowered. They take the time to study scientific literature, apply tested treatments and ignore unproven approaches. They are confident in their ability to deliver quality care to their patients. These benefits are multiplied when nurses in leadership roles support the implementation of this approach.
When care and treatment are based on quantifiable, research-backed data, it is easier to be transparent about treatments. Evidence-based practices help nurses choose the right treatment for the right patient without relying on cookbook medicine.
Better quality care
It is already known that treatment based on proven methods and research results in better outcomes for patients. When evidence-based practice is used to address diseases and healthcare concerns, the quality of care delivered to patients improves. This improves the patient’s experience and ultimately results in financial benefits for healthcare organizations.
Using evidence-based practice in nursing
Nurses play an important role in delivering care to patients. Evidence based practice can help nurses create and implement strategies and treatments that focus on improved outcomes. DNP degree programs at Walsh University are designed to help nursing professionals and leaders understand and apply EBP in the healthcare industry. Here are some of the ways in which evidence-based practice can be applied in various nursing specializations:
Adult gerontology acute care
Nurses that specialize in this area are responsible for diagnosing and treating critical medical conditions in acute care settings. These nurse practitioners often use advanced diagnostics to understand the effects of an injury or illness. Evidence-based practice can help these nurses determine the best treatments for these acute conditions.
Adult gerontology primary care
These nurse practitioners are responsible for providing primary care to patients suffering from chronic illnesses. They often need to use different medications for treating one condition. Evidence-based practice can help these nurses study scientific literature about chronic illnesses and how they progress. This helps them create better treatment plans for their patients.
Nurses specializing in family practices need to learn how to work with all age groups in the family practice setting. Through evidence-based practice, they can learn how to create better treatment plans for patients of different ages. With EBP they can also develop a better understanding of hereditary illnesses and how to treat them.
Nurses specializing in pediatric care will need to focus on the health needs of children. These specialized nurses can use evidence-based practice to learn more about illnesses that present at birth and develop at a young age. They can also learn more about the least invasive treatments for their young patients.
Nurses that work in psychiatric units and specialize in providing mental health treatments are trained to have a deep understanding of psychopharmacology and psychotherapy treatments. These nurses can use evidence-based practice to diagnose patients through data-backed research. They also consider patient preferences, and evidence of past illnesses when creating treatment plans for their patients.
Nurse practitioners specializing in this area care for women at every stage of their lives. Their responsibilities include delivering obstetrical, gynecological and primary healthcare to women of all ages. They can refer to current research related to women’s health when suggesting screening tests to patients and while designing individualized treatment plans.
Roadblocks to evidence-based practice
The benefits of evidence-based practice are quite clear and can be noticed in every area of the healthcare industry. Nurses that are trained in EBP and committed to implementing EBP strategies in their organization may still have to face roadblocks and challenges along the way. One of the biggest obstacles to implementing EBP is the lack of training in nurses. Without a deep understanding of EBP, its benefits and its applications, it is not possible to implement these practices. Staff shortages are also another challenge. To implement EBP, it is important for those in leadership roles to understand why EBP is important. Healthcare leaders need to ensure that the organization has sufficient resources to implement this practice in real-life.
For nurses, it is important to navigate these challenges and changing regulations on a daily basis. Nurses in leadership positions can encourage their staff members to participate in evidence-based practice. They can also share their own clinical expertise with others. For nurses to govern and implement EBP strategies effectively in healthcare organizations, they will need a wide range of skills. Nurses will need to be able to analyze research, make decisions based on data and evidence and solve problems. They will need leadership skills and strong communication skills to create and propose solutions that may benefit their patients. Nurses will also need to be able to communicate these ideas and findings to colleagues, leaders, patients and their families.