When Vendors Say They Are “Evidence-Based,” What Does That Really Mean?


The term “evidence-based” has been juggled around in healthcare for years. Many companies use the term, but few provide the necessary details to support the claim. In particular, use of the term “evidence-based” has exploded among companies providing IT-based solutions for payers and providers. In the health plan space, insurance companies are required to meet a burden of proof that evidence-based resources are being utilized in order to qualify for National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) accreditation status. Similarly, in the health system space, evidence-based guidelines have become the standard as physicians strive to reduce clinical variation.

Evidence-Based-WordCloud.jpgThe concept is neither new nor revolutionary. Medical care is (at its root) a science, the strength of which is determined by the quality of the available evidence. The conundrum for payers and providers is in determining and distinguishing how different vendors manage and define “evidence.” At Hayes, we use internationally recognized scientific standards to search, select, and grade the quality of the scientific literature. We combine a study design hierarchy and risk of bias assessment in order to grade the strength of the evidence. This is a significant element in devising a rating for the evidence behind a health technology. Components such as study quality, consistency, precision, and applicability are taken into account when establishing the benefits and harms of a given health technology. 

Evidence grading is just one component of the Hayes methodology—below is an outline of the full process:

  1. Background Research
  2. Development of the Key Questions
  3. Literature Review
    • Systematic search, selection, interpretation, and critical appraisal of studies and synthesis of the evidence
  4. Evidence Grading
    • An assessment of the quality of the evidence for each outcome, key question, or application
  5. Technology Rating
    • An evidence-based conclusion and assignment of a Hayes Rating       

Generally speaking, companies will vet a vendor before hiring them. When it comes to a vendor that’s touting their tools and/or resources as being “evidence-based,” some more specific questions are warranted such as:

  1. What is your methodology process as it relates to evidence assessment?
  2. What is the expertise level of the person conducting the research?
  3. What are your parameters for determining the validity of the evidence?

Interested in learning more about the Hayes process? Click here to find out how we help let the evidence guide you.

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