Clinicians want to give their patients the best possible care. But many struggle to stay current with medical innovation. So how do doctors with busy schedules keep up with the latest developments in medicine?

A growing challenge

Staying current in medicine is more challenging than ever. In 2020, the total body of medical knowledge will double every 73 days. Transformations that took 50 years in 1950 now occur in less than three months.

The result is a constant stream of new research and technological innovations with the potential to improve patient care. But as a clinician, you’re busy treating patients. There’s hardly time to read the news, let alone scour journals for information relevant to your practice.

Tips to stay current

The good news is that you’re not alone. Every practicing physician is learning and refining methods for continuing their education. Here are four of the top ways healthcare professionals stay current with medical innovation.

1. Talk to your colleagues

One of the most common ways to stay current with medical innovation is to exchange information with colleagues. This can be other doctors in your organization and social circles, as well as nurses, PAs and pharmacists who you interact with.

It’s impossible to keep up with all the new information on your own. So remember that, now more than ever, it’s important to draw on the shared knowledge of your community. Develop broad networks and take the time to talk – at work and socially – with other healthcare professionals.

2. Read journals

Journals have always been the best place to learn about developments in medicine. But you probably don’t have time to sort through the latest issues of each journal in your speciality.

Instead, let others curate resources for you. Popular options include NEJM Journal Watch and the American College of Physicians’ Journal Club. These editorials reviews leading journals and summarize relevant information and developments within specialities.

3. Adopt decision support

Clinical decisions support systems are quickly becoming essential tools for healthcare providers. These systems can perform lots of functions – from harnessing insights from big data to reducing duplicative testing – but they are also one way to stay current with medical innovation.

One of the leading examples is UpToDate. This service provides evidence-based medical knowledge at the point of care, so you know you’re following the most current treatment protocols. UpToDate has 54 doctors on staff who review over 400 journals to curate the most important new information in recent weeks. There’s a wide body of research associating use of this platform with improved outcomes.

4. Attend conferences

In an era of fast and quick information, conferences may seem like the least efficient way to stay current with medical innovation. But think about conferences this way: after a year in which medical knowledge has doubled (several times), presenters and panels give you the highlights.

Try to attend at least one medical conference annually. Pick the one event most relevant to your practice, and think of it as your commitment to staying current.

Finding a method that works for you

Whatever approach you take to staying current with medical innovation, make sure it works for you. If you try to adopt a habit you don’t actually enjoy or have time for, it won’t work anyway. Commit now to a small step and then continue exploring what tools, platforms and communities help you stay up to date.