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How do I keep up as a physician during COVID

COVID-19 has resulted in a surge of patient cases, and also of information. Some of this information has been helpful, some harmful. The amount of information itself, and the feeling of urgency that accompanied it, has been felt by everyone, especially by physicians who are asked by almost all their patients to help interpret this for them. The speed with which we read has not changed, and the time available for reading has often decreased, filled with clinical surges or family responsibilities.

Graph of increasing number of articles related to COVID

COVID-19 Publications

The large increase in information has itself become a possible problem in accessing good information. When there is an explosion of information without an effective way to select higher quality information, that increase in volume decreases the useful information for almost everyone: the noise (low quality information) overwhelms the signal (high quality information).

I’m certainly experiencing this. As a primary care doctor at a large academic medical center (and one that is conducting many therapeutic trials for COVID-19), I have both the opportunity and obligation to be as informed as possible. However, it has quickly become clear that I could spend all day reading news, journal articles, pre-print articles, and attending conferences and still not cover all the material.

COVID is a stress test not only for our public health infrastructure, but also for our organizational and personal learning systems.

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