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Evidence-Based Diagnostics in Healthcare
Evidence-based diagnostics in healthcare refers to the use of reliable, scientific sources of information to reach a diagnosis relating to a patient’s health. It will often entail using specific tests to establish whether a suspected illness or condition is present.
DL Sackett defined evidence-based medicine as “the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients… integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.” Evidence-based diagnostics specifically makes use of testing to guide treatment decisions.
Evidence-based testing can be used in response to a patient’s symptoms, or it can be used proactively as a precaution, such as in screening. Screening tests aim to establish whether an illness or condition is present in a patient even though the individual is not displaying any symptoms. For example, cancer screening programs can be used to detect cancer at an early stage, where signs of the disease have not yet manifested themselves. Early detection can make a significant difference to the prognosis for the patient.
Choosing Diagnostic Tests:
All evidence-based testing must be accurate and timely to be most effective for patient health care. Some diagnostic tests can be costly, so nurses must use information gathered from the patient and their observations to assess which diagnostic tests are most appropriate. Equally, it is essential to avoid delays in arranging for tests to be carried out since a prompt diagnosis can impact patient outcomes. Many different types of tests can be used to support the diagnosis process. These include:
- ECG: monitors the functioning of the heart and identifies abnormalities
- Gastroscopy: a camera is used to identify issues in the esophagus and stomach
- PET: imaging scan used to identify heart disease, brain disorders, and tumors
Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals Will Reach an Evidence-Based Diagnosis By:
- Formulating focused questions to investigate a clinical issue
- Identifying appropriate diagnostic tests and evaluating results
- Finding the best research evidence available
- Drawing on their medical knowledge
- Drawing on the knowledge of more experienced colleagues as needed
- Assessing the reliability of the information available
When you join a Master’s of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner program, you will have the opportunity to learn more about evidence-based diagnostics. As part of studying to become a Family Nursing Practitioner, you will gain an understanding of the purposes that different tests serve and how to evaluate them. For example, at the University of Indianapolis, the online MSN-FNP program includes the following components:
- Advanced health assessment
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Diagnostics & procedures in primary care
- Advanced practices across the lifespan
The part-time program is completed across 32 semesters and includes a clinical placement and an on-campus residency.
The demands on the healthcare sector have never been greater, so efficient use of healthcare resources is vital for managing the provision of services. Using evidence-based diagnostics enhances the efficiency of handling patients, ensuring they get the proper treatment and the best possible health outcomes.