Earlier this week, I published an overview of preprints in clinical decision support and point-of-care (POC) tools like UpToDate, BMJ Best Practice, DynaMed, and Clinical Key. There were a few salient points:
- Only preprints related to Covid-19 had been included in three of these (DynaMed doesn’t appear to cite preprints)
- Of the thousands of Covid-19 preprints posted, only a handful passed muster with the expert, trusted intermediaries responsible for these products, suggesting preprinting is a low yield activity
- Linking and updating were deficiencies when it came to how the preprints were cited — often, the preprint citations didn’t link, and many times the entries were not citing the most current version or an available peer-reviewed VoR
Reaching out to a few of the companies, UpToDate was the first to reply in full. Here’s an edited version of the reply written by Ted Post, MD, the EIC of UpToDate:
Thank you for your insightful and comprehensive analysis of the current role and state of preprints in clinical decision support resources. . . . We know lives are at stake and we take our responsibility as a “trusted intermediary” as you put it, to get it right, very seriously.
As the outbreaks intensified into a pandemic last year, we transformed the UpToDate peer-review editorial process together with expert contributors from around the world to nimbly assess and integrate the flood of new research, while preserving the uncompromising and trustworthy quality for which we are known. This included critical scrutiny of preprints which, in many cases, played a valuable role in making recommendations related to new findings quickly available to clinicians. . . .
We have more work to do, especially as the body of COVID-19 knowledge continues to grow and mature. Thank you for bringing the unlinked and outdated citations you found to our attention. We will focus on promptly addressing and improving preprint citations for our clinician users.
A Wolters Kluwer employee shepherding the communications back and forth informed me that, as of yesterday, most if not all of the citations I flagged had been corrected or updated, and the linking fixed, writing:
I want to thank you for directly helping us with making it better.
This was nice to hear, as when it comes to optimistic criticism and the hours that go into examining products, policies, and platforms, not everyone appreciates the effort, while some even get defensive by proxy. But progress is progress, and it’s reassuring to know how many people take the role of expert, trusted intermediary seriously, and how many people sincerely work to make things better.
So, kudos to UpToDate, who understand that when problems are pointed out, it’s being done — here at least — in the spirit of, “Hey, did you see this? Maybe you want to fix it, because whatever we’re talking about could be improved.”
Have a great weekend!