Clinical formulas and their associated guidelines play an important role in healthcare, but how accurate are they when it comes to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic differences? In recent years, there has been a surge of data and artificial intelligence in healthcare and clinicians increasingly rely on data-based formulas and algorithms to guide decisions on diagnosis and care. Based on our research, we feel there are risks to patient outcomes when some of these formulas are based on biased or unsubstantiated research.
What are Clinical Formulas?
Clinical formulas are equations that medical professionals use to make calculations about a patient’s health. These formulas help determine the most appropriate course of treatment, a person’s risk of developing certain diseases, and more. These formulas are often incorporated into clinical guidelines to create a standard treatment for care.
Impact on Health Equity
Clinical formulas are designed to standardize decision-making so that all patients receive quality evidence-based care. However, they are not perfect. In some cases, clinical formulas incorporate biased or suspect scientific information regarding race, ethnicity or gender and can produce biased results. For example, one formula has been shown to underestimate the risk of cardiovascular disease in women and racial and ethnic minority groups leading to less screening and later-stage diagnosis. They also have the potential to create a false sense of precision, leading clinicians to rely too heavily on the results and overlooking other important individual factors.
Despite these limitations, clinical formulas and guidelines may also play a positive role in promoting health equity. They ensure that all patients receive data-driven care, bridging the gap between those who have access to high-quality healthcare and those who do not. For clinical formulas to have the greatest impact on health equity, healthcare organizations and doctors must be aware of potential limitations and use them as part of a broader approach to promoting fairness and equity in healthcare.
The TruLite clinical research team has uncovered and documented over 60 formulas and guidelines that could further inequities and perpetuate bias. TruLite integrates this information as education and recommendations in our health equity platform, Truity, to address these issues at the point of care. Our recent article on bias in colorectal cancer care is one of a series of posts we plan to create to increase awareness of these issues.
Learn more about our comprehensive health equity platform at trulitehealth.com/platform/clinical-social-data.