An interview with the former director at the Danish Health Authority, Britta Jeppesen where we discuss the need for Covidence in guideline Work.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of evidence-based medicine in informing clinical practice and healthcare decision-making. To achieve this, guidelines organisations have been developing guidelines based on systematic reviews of available evidence. The systematic review process involves identifying, appraising, and synthesising all available evidence to answer a specific research question. However, the traditional process of conducting systematic reviews and developing guidelines is time-consuming, resource-intensive, and often prone to errors.
In a recent interview, we had the privilege of sitting down with Britta Jeppsen, former director at the Danish Health Authority, to discuss the pressing need for a digital revolution in streamlining the guidelines process and fostering collaboration. Recognising the importance of efficiency within this field, Britta shared her valuable insights on the topic. Having discovered Covidence at a Cochrane colloquium, she hailed it as the optimal choice for enhancing efficiency and reducing errors.
Join us as Britta takes us through her transformative journey, culminating in her current role as Chief Scientist alongside Covidence.
Hey Britta! So nice to meet you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found yourself working with Guidelines?
“I studied public health at University and while I was studying, I did a scholarship with the Nordic Cochrane Centre. This gave me an appetite for research. So when I was almost done, they asked if I wanted to come and do a PhD after my master’s, and I did that and then I kind of got bitten by that bug. I completed the PhD and I did some postdoc work as well. And the research was focused around systematic reviewing, and specifically I was looking into methodology behind the systematic reviewing. Then the Danish Health Authority offered me a position making guidelines for them. Then I worked as the head of methodology at the Health Authority for a while. That’s where I got to know Covidence.
So you have been using Covidence in your previous role with Guidelines, what made you choose Covidence in the first place?
“Covidence was by far the best choice because I was looking for efficiency. And I was looking for ways to make it easier for the team to not make errors. Covidence helped them handle a large number of data and they were able to flow through the system step-by-step. It was always very important that Covidence integrated with the other systems we used too.”
Did you find Covidence helpful for Guidelines in other ways?
“Covidence has been helpful, especially on bigger projects, where tracking progress and contributions from team members is essential. It has enabled the team to keep track of exactly how much each team member has screened and extracted data.”
Do you think using Covidence had a significant impact on the work you were doing in Guidelines?
“I truly believe it made the work easier and more accurate, it made it easier for people to do it right. And also to be transparent, which is especially important in working group meetings because if a question arises about why something was or was not included, you can go back and you can see why.”
Britta notes that the traditional process of developing guidelines involves forming a panel and formulating questions, conducting a systematic review, presenting evidence to the panel, and updating the guidelines every three to five years. However, she believes that the living model, which involves continuous searching and updating, is a more efficient way of developing guidelines.
Can you tell us about the living evidence model you have been working on?
“I believe that Living Evidence is the way forward. I think the system as it is now is broken. I really hate the duplication of effort. It’s mind blowing how many people are doing the same systematic reviews and doing the exact same meta-analysis across the world.”
Interesting, what could that look like?
“Ideally, you would have these big databases of studies that are really well tacked. So you could have questions and would be able to think “what in my portfolio of trials would answer this question” and be able to access it. You can do that now in Covidence but this would be on a bigger collaborative scale”
Would this be for all guidelines questions?
“I think living evidence is brilliant, I’m totally biased. However, I don’t think every question requires living evidence. There needs to be something that’s actually changing, where new evidence is coming up. Otherwise, there would be no point in continuously updating. The living-evidence approach saves you from climbing the mountain each time. You wouldn’t have to form the panel again, and you only need to make sure the questions are on point instead of having to formulate them all over again. Meaning you can just keep looking at what’s coming, adding it in. It will make collaboration so much easier too because the data will always be up to date, and available whenever you need it. So it won’t be so much of a hurdle to kind of get people to share it; it will be ready when they are and not the other way around.
I think living evidence also calls for being more digital. I don’t think too many today are in a position where they are printing lists and putting small X’s on it, that’s not what I’m saying. But you will need something where it’s easier for you to share and to collaborate. And that is just easier if you have an online platform. People can log in, do their bit and then leave again instead of having to send around spreadsheets or the like. So, I think for sure tech is important. It’s going to be even more important when you want to check that people have done what they said they were going to contribute.”
What are you looking forward to most working with Living Evidence?
“Oh, it’s going to sound so corny – it’s getting more use out of resources and getting more evidence based medicine out there. And really, that duplication is killing me. If we can help people to work together, and trust each other, I think that would be very good.”
From speaking with Britta we have surmised that the traditional process of conducting systematic reviews and developing guidelines is time-consuming, resource-intensive, and potentially prone to errors. However, with the emergence of digital tools (such as Covidence), there is an opportunity to revolutionise the process and make it more efficient and error-free.
The Need for a Digital Revolution in Systematic Reviews in Guidelines work:
To address the limitations of the traditional systematic review process, there is a growing need for a digital revolution that can enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and improve collaboration among team members. Digital tools can enable systematic reviewers to manage the large amounts of data involved in the review process, facilitate collaboration among team members, and streamline the overall process.
How Covidence can help in Guidelines work:
Covidence is an online platform that enables systematic reviewers to manage the review process from start to finish. It provides features such as automated deduplication, screening, and data extraction, which significantly reduce the time and effort required in the systematic review process. Additionally, it facilitates collaboration among team members and provides real-time data on the progress of the review. Covidence is a digital tool that is a leader in the systematic review space. You can learn more here www.covidence.org