Making Clinical Practice Guidelines Pragmatic: How Big Data and Real World Evidence Can Close the Gap.


Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have become ubiquitous in every field of medicine today but there has been limited success in implementation and improvement in health outcomes. Guidelines are largely based on the results of traditional randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which adopt a highly selective process to maximise the intervention's chance of demonstrating efficacy thus having high internal validity but lacking external validity. Therefore, guidelines based on these RCTs often suffer from a gap between trial efficacy and real world effectiveness and is one of the common reasons contributing to poor guideline adherence by physicians. "Real World Evidence" (RWE) can complement RCTs in CPG development. RWE-in the form of data from integrated electronic health records-represents the vast and varied collective experience of frontline doctors and patients. RWE has the potential to fill the gap in current guidelines by balancing information about whether a test or treatment works (efficacy) with data on how it works in real world practice (effectiveness). RWE can also advance the agenda of precision medicine in everyday practice by engaging frontline stakeholders in pragmatic biomarker studies. This will enable guideline developers to more precisely determine not only whether a clinical test or treatment is recommended, but for whom and when. Singapore is well positioned to ride the big data and RWE wave as we have the advantages of high digital interconnectivity, an integrated National Electronic Health Record (NEHR), and governmental support in the form of the Smart Nation initiative.







David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines

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