OHSU Participates in Development of WebEBM

05/11/00    Portland, Ore.

Site to Offer First-Ever Source of Validated Health Care Information

Oregon Health Sciences University is partnering with four other top U.S. academic health centers to launch WebEBM, a first-of-its-kind source of 'evidence-based' medical information for physicians and their patients. When complete, the Web site will provide reviews and evaluations of treatments for hundreds of diseases and conditions.

"The key to the value of WebEBM is that the information on it is evidence-based," said Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D., WebEBM CEO, "which means that medical experts have looked at the literature on treatment recommendations and have evaluated the evidence to determine whether those treatments really work. This is the first time that a Web site can guarantee that the health care information it provides has been reviewed and evaluated by medical experts from top academic health centers."

"The goal of WebEBM is to provide a single source of clinical information that is credible and has been validated by experts in those areas," said Peter O. Kohler, M.D., OHSU president. "There are many search tools and engines available that offer access to a range of medical literature, but until now there has been no way to judge the accuracy of that information."

Of the approximately 100 health care experts who have begun writing reviews of treatment recommendations for WebEBM, more than 20 are from OHSU. Physicians affiliated with OHSU's partners in the project - Duke, Emory, Vanderbilt and Washington universities - are authoring reviews on the remaining topics.

"Existing treatment recommendations for more than 100 diseases and conditions are being reviewed by physicians from the five participating academic health centers to evaluate which treatments are most effective," said Keckley. "Each reviewer then grades the evidence on a six-point scale and writes a review of the existing literature, incorporating that grading scale."

Physicians and their patients who use WebEBM will be able to see the rating for each treatment recommendation. Where more than one treatment works, the reviewer says so; where evidence is weak, the reviewer also says so.

"All of this information will be available to subscribing physician groups and their patients who have access to the site," said Keckley.

Access to WebEBM will be licensed to hospitals and health care systems for use by their physicians. Participating physicians then can provide interested patients with an information prescription number (IPN) that allows patients to see the reviews of the treatment recommendations for their specific situation.

In addition to allowing patients to view treatment information, WebEBM takes electronic communications one step further by making it possible for physicians to post messages and instructions on each patient's customized home page. Patients then can report back to their physician via WebEBM with updates on their status. This feedback feature will enable physicians to gather and track patient-related information to judge how well each patient's recommended treatment is working. Patient-specific information goes only to the patient's physician.

"We are pleased to be part of a process that will give physicians an additional tool to use when making diagnoses and determining the best treatment options for their patients," said Judith R. Logan, M.D., assistant professor in OHSU's Division of Medical Informatics and Outcomes Research, and coordinator of the OHSU physicians writing reviews for the site. "WebEBM is an exciting new concept that is going to help build bridges between physicians and their patients."

"Physicians won't have to change how they practice," said Keckley. "This simply gives them a new and better tool to use for patient care."

WebEBM also will serve as a tool for promoting life-long learning for physicians, because treatment recommendations will be regularly reviewed and updated as additional outcome information becomes available.

"We believe medical training should not end when physicians graduate from medical school," said Kohler. "WebEBM is a vehicle that will be able to deliver the latest, leading-edge evidence and health sciences literature to physicians long after they've left the halls of our schools."

The initial pilot test of WebEBM begins this month at a Vanderbilt University medical clinic in Tennessee. Twenty-two reviews will be available, with another 20 being added each month. By late September, when WebEBM is scheduled to roll out to clinics and physicians at all five participating academic health centers, more than 100 literature reviews will have been completed. Eventually, when WebEBM begins licensing use of the site to other medical groups, ratings of several hundred treatment options will be available.

The treatment recommendations being evaluated by OHSU physicians are for treatment of anemia, brain cancer, cataracts, cholelithiasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, conjunctivitis, contraception, cystic fibrosis, eczema, endometriosis, headaches, hepatic failure, hip replacement, liver transplantation, peripheral vascular atherosclerosis, pharyngitis, preterm infants, preterm labor, prostate cancer, upper respiratory infections, and viral hepatitis.

For more information on OHSU's participation in WebEBM, call Judith Logan, M.D., at (503) 494-5902. You may visit the WebEBM site at http://www.webebm.com.