The importance of healthcare research is hard to overstate, as breakthroughs enable earlier diagnosis, prevention of ill health, better medical outcomes, and more effective treatments for daily life. Nowadays, high-quality medical care provided by healthcare institutions is built upon years or even decades of effort and hard work investigating diseases and possible treatments.
Through medical research, healthcare professionals can decide how to treat patients best. It is what makes the development of innovative procedures and tools possible. Without it, no one can identify whether new treatments are more effective than current ones.
Keep scrolling as this article will touch on why research is done, the people involved, and the popular types of healthcare research. Although medical research is almost impossible to quantify, analyzing it is essential. if organizations are to continue exhausting significant hours and money into the medical sciences. So, let’s get started.
Why is healthcare research done?
As mentioned above, innovative medical advancements are made possible through healthcare research. Even if a clinical research study does not reach its goals, it contributes to evidence-based knowledge, creating a pathway for future investigation.
Now, you might ask why healthcare research is done. Of course, goals and objectives for specific clinical studies vary, but here are several reasons for healthcare research.
Research enhances information literacy
Healthcare and clinical judgments must be guided by research considered to be evidence-based. With healthcare research, medical leaders can underpin the knowledge of diseases. They can provide comprehensive answers to health-related questions, learn more about how the human mind and body function, and select treatments that provide better patient outcomes.
Moreover, it also lets them establish a sense of reassurance with patients. Healthcare providers who have kept up to date with the latest medical advances put many patients at ease, that their health is in good hands. Additionally, healthcare research ensures that treatment plans are unbiased and verifiable regardless of the circumstances.
By using only evidence-based research, medical professionals can avoid choosing treatments based on assumptions and ensure that a patient’s condition improves in the long run. The advantage of healthcare research is that it empowers medical professionals to eliminate uncertainties and ensure every treatment delivered is according to accepted guidelines.
Research shapes healthcare policies
Healthcare policies are essential in establishing guidelines that assist patients, healthcare institutions, and systems. Healthcare professionals can avoid costly mistakes and poor communication around medical decisions with protocols in place.
So, where does healthcare research fit into this? Like it or not, evidence shapes policies more fundamentally than everyone might realize. While idea-based policymaking might work, it can be problematic in practice, especially since there is no evidence to back it up.
More often than not, the decisions of healthcare policymakers are guided by evidence and data that go beyond a particular idea. Evidence-based research is often deep-rooted and drives policy decisions that work with and support the results.
Healthcare professionals will learn how the rules are established through research and share issues impacting patient care. If that’s not good enough, research also allows healthcare professionals to identify the pervasive disparities in healthcare and their solutions.
Research can prevent the next pandemic
Even before the pandemic, the healthcare industry was going through ongoing change and evolution with the emergence of telemedicine and other technological innovations. However, the pace of change has quickened significantly as the world deals with the pandemic and its after-effects.
As a matter of fact, McKinsey Global reveals that 24% of survey respondents reported having a telemedicine appointment in February 2021, a considerable increase from the three percent recorded in 2019.
As the world slowly recovers from COVID-19, the focus is now on preventing the next crisis. Wherever its origins, the next pandemic might spread faster and be deadlier unless we learn prevention techniques.
With the World Health Organization reporting over 100,000 healthcare worker deaths in the recent pandemic, healthcare research becomes even more necessary in stopping the next crisis from occurring. An important advantage of healthcare research is that it empowers leaders to increase education and awareness programs that monitor and prevent the spillover of pathogens.
Using research, healthcare professionals can quickly identify the disease, cull the infected species as required, and take the necessary precautions to prevent a global pandemic. Furthermore, healthcare research can enhance viral sequencing and vaccine development and fund interventions that prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Now you might ask who is involved in healthcare research studies. Some involved parties may include the government, private foundations, public and private healthcare institutions, or even pharmaceutical companies.
Medical scientists will be the ones conducting research aimed at improving overall human health. They often take advantage of several investigative methods at medical schools and teaching hospitals to reach their findings.
On a fundamental level, these medical scientists divide research studies into two phases, specifically pre-clinical research, and clinical research. They evaluate the mechanisms that may lead to clinical research during pre-clinical research. Most often, this stage requires no approval and is supervised by scientists.
Once the pre-clinical research has been completed, the clinical trial will begin, wherein people are used as experimental subjects to test the claims of the research. This requires ethical approval from governing bodies. It is supervised by a medical expert and is performed in a clinically approved environment.
Types of healthcare research
Healthcare research is divided into multiple categories. This section discusses the several types of healthcare research and the advantages that come with it.
Basic or Laboratory Research
An understanding of chemical interactions, genetic material, cells, and biological agents, specifically the agents’ connections, habits, or properties, can be established or confirmed through laboratory or basic research.
This type of study entails scientific investigation and experimentation in a controlled setting. The basis and understanding of the subject for all other forms of study are provided by basic science. It also involves the investigation of particular theories by laboratory scientists to aid the creation of medicinal therapies. The fact that researchers can manage the parameters in a laboratory setting is a benefit of this type of research.
Beyond the facility, it is frequently impossible to maintain such a high level of supervision. This increases a hypothesis’ reliability and validity and enables the assessment of many disease-related and treatment-related variables.
Establishing at least one independent variable and keeping all others consistent is essential for ensuring successful laboratory research. New medical imaging and diagnostic tools can also be developed in a laboratory environment due to their controlled circumstances.
Observational Healthcare Research
Observational healthcare research is a process wherein health outcomes are evaluated according to a specific research plan and protocol. In this study, researchers will observe patients with the same treatment plan or disease in a particular period.
They will identify how patients respond to treatments and consider different variables that patients might be experiencing. A patient registry is used in this type of research to collect data about the patient’s medical conditions or treatments. This way, researchers can better understand how a treatment or condition impacts patients in the real world.
Diagnostic research refers to searching for effective ways to determine a specific condition. Unlike observational healthcare research, it seeks to identify which factors interfere in a particular scenario and the different characteristics and implications.
Like all research procedures, diagnostic research responds to a medical issue that warrants a solution. Once the diagnostic evaluation is done, the result will show whether there is an issue, the components involved, and its context based on specific scenarios.
Quality of Life Research
Quality of Life research uncovers steps to enhance comfort, well-being, and quality of life for patients with chronic diseases. It has a policy and individual clinical, descriptive, and treatment evaluation use cases. Healthcare professionals can use quality-of-life research to facilitate decision-making for individual patients and curtail challenges on chronic illnesses.
It also informs them of treatment choices at multiple levels while understanding a proposed treatment’s potential benefits and risks. In doing so, they can weigh the impact of a decision on life expectancy, human function, and systems.
Interventional research examines the effects of a particular treatment, such as medication, technological advancement, or behavioral modification, on wellness outcomes. It uses the process of randomization in which various groups of people are assigned at random to receive and not receive the prospective treatment.
Contingent to the ailment, the subjects that do not obtain the medication often receive either the current standard of care or a placebo. Interventional studies are also frequently twofold, in which neither the subject nor the scientist knows which subjects are trialing the treatment or are in the placebo group.
Prevention research seeks practical ways to prevent illnesses from developing or returning. These include studying lifestyle changes, minerals, vaccines, vitamins, and medicines to assess their effectiveness.
Dissimilar to other healthcare research types, it is built to produce results that can apply in determining and evaluating threats and creating and testing interventions to avoid or minimize adverse exposures or disease progression. While performing prevention research, you will identify and assess risk, develop, and evaluate interventions, and implement effective treatments into practice.
As the name suggests, treatment research involves finding interventions that work better for a specific disease. This can be seeking medications or new approaches to radiation therapy and surgery.
Some subjects are administered one or multiple experimental stimuli during treatment research, such as medications and treatment plans. These subjects are often patients selected after careful consideration and review by physicians and healthcare professionals.
Genetic research strives to enhance disorder prognosis by detecting and comprehending potential connections between chromosomes and diseases. This field of research may investigate how a person’s genetics influence whether they are prone to inherit or develop a disease.
In this research, medical scientists create therapies that are genetically tailored to each patient. The goal of the experiment and who obtains the results are the primary distinctions between clinical genetic testing and genetic research.
Discovering unidentified genomes, knowing how genes function, creating tests for potential therapeutic applications, and improving our understanding of genetic disorders are some of the objectives of genetics research testing.
Screening research is a process of finding the most effective ways to detect specific disorders or health conditions. It aims to enhance understanding of diseases and the treatment plans for chronic diseases.
During screening research, you will explore how a particular health issue impacts an individual and how it can be identified in various stages. This allows healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment based on the patient’s condition and genetic makeup.
Epidemiological Healthcare Research
Epidemiology research looks for the trends, causes, and treatments of illnesses in certain populations or groups. Epidemiologists examine the origins, scalability, and temporal shifts in the prevalence of illness.
For instance, to identify their source and strategize to halt or lessen the development of any of these diseases, experts have searched for trends in cancer or flu epidemics. These studies can be interventionist, but due to ethical, social, political, and health risk issues, they are mostly empirical.
How to participate in healthcare research?
If your interest in healthcare research has been piqued by now, you may wonder how to participate. There are multiple ways to take part in clinical trials and research. This can be through completing a questionnaire about health or behaviors, enrolling in a trial, or helping researchers understand how the healthy body works.
If becoming a healthcare provider interests you, you can also take the Marymount University fast track nursing program, where you will learn how to shape the current medical system. You will conduct health assessments and medical administration activities to advance expertise and improve the overall quality of care.
A fast-track nursing program is designed for students who want to be Registered Nurses but already hold non-nursing degrees. These degrees do not require general studies coursework but concentrate on the skills and experiences required for patient safety.
Healthcare research is a diverse field. While all research has the same goal of advancing healthcare knowledge to develop more effective solutions to health issues, it can take many forms to do this. All are equally important in improving how we take care of each other.