Schwerpunkt| Volume 109, ISSUE 4-5, P285-290, 2015

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Information overload in healthcare: too much of a good thing?

  • Irma Klerings
    Cochrane Austria, Department for Evidence-based Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Danube University Krems, Krems an der Donau, Austria
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  • Alexandra S. Weinhandl
    Cochrane Austria, Department for Evidence-based Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Danube University Krems, Krems an der Donau, Austria
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  • Kylie J. Thaler
    Corresponding author: Kylie J. Thaler, Cochrane Austria, Department for Evidence-based Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Danube University Krems, Dr.-Karl-Dorrek Str. 30, 3500 Krems an der Donau, Austria. Tel.: +43 2732 893 2919; Fax: +43 2732 893 4910.
    Cochrane Austria, Department for Evidence-based Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Danube University Krems, Krems an der Donau, Austria
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      The rapidly growing production of healthcare information – both scientific and popular – increasingly leads to a situation of information overload affecting all actors of the healthcare system and threatening to impede the adoption of evidence-based practice.
      In preparation for the 2015 Cochrane Colloquium in Vienna, we discuss the issues faced by three major actors of this system: patients, healthcare practitioners, and systematic reviewers. We analyze their situation through the concept of “filter failure”, positing that the main problem is not that there is “too much information”, but that the traditional means of managing and evaluating information are ill-suited to the realities of the digital age. Some of the major instances of filter failure are inadequate information retrieval systems for point-of-care settings, the problem of identifying all relevant evidence in an exceedingly diverse landscape of information resources, and the very basic lack of health information literacy, concerning not only the general public.
      Finally, we give an overview of proposed solutions to the problem of information overload. These new or adapted filtering systems include adapting review literature to the specific needs of practitioners or patients, technological improvements to information systems, strengthening the roles of intermediaries, as well as improving health literacy.


      Die wachsende Menge an wissenschaftlichen und nichtwissenschaftlichen Online-Veröffentlichungen im Gesundheitsbereich führt zunehmend zu einer Situation des Informationsüberflusses, die nicht nur alle Akteure des Gesundheitswesens betrifft, sondern auch ein Hindernis für die Verbreitung evidenzbasierter Medizin darstellt. In Vorbereitung auf das Cochrane Colloquium 2015 zeigen wir Probleme auf, mit denen sich drei wichtige Akteure – Patienten, medizinisches Personal, Verfasser von systematischen Reviews – konfrontiert sehen. Wir analysieren ihre Situation mithilfe des „Filter-Failure“-Konzepts: Das tatsächliche Problem ist demnach nicht das Übermaß an Information, sondern dass die traditionellen Praktiken der Auswahl von relevanten Informationen den Realitäten des digitalen Zeitalters nicht gewachsen sind. Zu wichtigen Beispielen von „filter failure“ gehören unzureichende Integration von elektronischen Informationssystemen in die Arbeitsabläufe medizinischer Praxis, die Schwierigkeit, in einer heterogenen Informationslandschaft relevante Evidenz zu identifizieren, sowie mangelnde Informationskompetenz. Dementsprechend zielen Strategien zur Bekämpfung von Informationsüberfluss auf die Einführung neuer und die Anpassung existierender Filtersysteme ab: Die Erstellung von Informationsformaten, die den Bedürfnissen der einzelnen Akteure besser angepasst sind, die Verbesserung von Information-Retrieval-Technologien, die Stärkung von Vermittlerrollen und die Verbesserung der Informationskompetenz aller Akteure.



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