Health provision systems in the developed western nations are currently facing major financial challenges. In order to meet these challenges, a number of new approaches used to assist the provision of health have been introduced, including the practice of health professionals. These approaches utilize specific methods of data capture and summarization such as: evidence based medicine (EBM) and practice guidelines. Evidence is generated from systematic clinical research as well as reported clinical experience and individually case based empirical evidence. All types of research though (quantitative or qualitative) have limitations. Similarly all types of evidence have advantages and disadvantages and can be complimentary to each other. Evidencebased individual decision (EBID) making is the commonest evidence-based medicine as practiced by the individual clinician in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It involves integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research. However this sort of evidence-based medicine, focuses excessively on the individual (potentially at the expense of others) in a system with limited budgets. Evidence-based guidelines (EBG) also support the practice of evidence-based medicine but at the organizational or institutional level. The main aim is to identify which interventions, over a range of patients, work best and which is cost-effective in order to guide service development and provision at a strategic level. Doing this effectively is a scientific and statistical skill in itself and the quality of guidelines is based primarily on the quality research evidence. It is important to note that lack of systematic evidence to support an intervention does not automatically mean that an intervention must instantly be abandoned. It is also important that guidelines are understood for what they are, i.e. not rules, or complete statements of knowledge. EBM will never have enough suitable evidence for all and every aspects of health provision in every locality. Innovation signifies a substantial positive change compared to gradual or incremental changes. Innovation using inductive reasoning has to play a major role within health care system and it is applicable to all three level of service provision: clinical practice, policy and organisation structure. The aim of this paper is to examine critically the above concepts and their complimentary role in supporting provision of health care systems which are suitable for the requirements of the population, affordable, deliverable, flexible and adaptable to social changes.

Key words: Evidence based medicine, practice guidelines, innovation

Ch. Kouimtsidis, St. John-Smith, P. Kemp, G. Ikkos (page 45) - Full article