The Global Evidence Summit – Improving Lives Through the Use of Evidence

Sep 27, 2017

The Global Evidence Summit (GES) was a gathering of people—clinicians, patients, caregivers, researchers—interested in promoting and using evidence-informed decision-making in healthcare. The theme of the summit, “Using Evidence. Improving Lives” captured the vibe of the meeting well; although it would be easy to get immersed in the weeds of a methodological approach or a new technology, there was a palpable sense that the purpose of our work is to improve lives. With this in mind, three themes were prominent throughout the week:

First, translating evidence is dependent on early, timely, and meaningful stakeholder engagement. There is so much data and evidence generated, maximizing what gets put into use is dependent on asking questions that are relevant to stakeholders, soliciting and considering stakeholder input as evidence is being generated, and using a variety of types of products to share and explain evidence. A stakeholder engagement strategy requires thinking broadly about who the stakeholders are, who will use the evidence, and whom it will impact.

Second, there is a vast quantity of data and evidence being generated, either through primary generation or secondary analysis and synthesis, and with advances in technologies, we have even greater opportunities for synthesis and learning (e.g. rapid reviews, machine learning, big data). With this come numerous challenges, such as ensuring the relevance of research/synthesis and minimizing duplication of efforts. Awareness of this was prominent at the GES, but carrying these discussions forward and committing to finding solutions to these challenges should be an effort that becomes a prominent theme at the next GES.

And third, ensuring the rigor and quality of evidence developed, shared, and used is critical. Especially as the quantity of data and evidence generated and synthesized increases, we must ensure that quality is not compromised or that compromises that are made are rationalized and bring some added value. This discussion was particularly active in relation to rapid reviews. There is clear value in developing capacity to conduct and tools to facilitate rapid reviews. There are equally clear risks (e.g. risk of bias). A prominent feature of the discussions around this at the GES was the value of emerging platforms to both accelerate the process and minimize the risk.

The focus on stakeholders, quality, and technology resonates closely with the HEARD Project, as these are integral components of our strategies to accelerate evidence-to-use. It also inspires us to think more innovatively about this topic. As emphasized by one plenary session, business-as-usual is inadequate; innovative thinking is needed not only for evidence generation and synthesis, but also for research and collaboration models, incentive structures, and priority setting. We look forward to the work ahead and to the next GES.