Over the 200 years of its existence a large amount of documentation – particularly case studies – has been published on the curative effects of homeopathic medicines. Nevertheless, more rigorous types of research in homeopathy are necessary to firmly establish its therapeutic value.
Observational studies are clinical research studies that follow research participants over time without changing their treatment. In these studies inferences are drawn or hypotheses tested through observational methods. They usually involve some form of systematic documentation of clinical practice, and are neither randomized nor controlled in design.
In experimental studies – also called clinical trials – participants are allocated to the different treatment options by a random process. The therapy under investigation is compared with a control group, which might be well-established treatment, non-treatment, different doses of the same treatment, sham or placebo treatment, full-scale treatment, minimal treatment or alternative treatment.
Treatment effects estimated by trials of randomized and non-randomized design can be similar in magnitude.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Clinical files databases are a valuable tool as long as they fulfil the required quality criteria and the protection of the patients’ privacy.
Handling patient information is at the core of our profession. With electronic patient files being used more often and with patient information being stored on computers, a new concern has arisen: the privacy and protection of that information. Among health care professionals, a standard for protecting sensitive patient information has been created: HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
That standard, which has been increasingly strictly enforced in the USA since 2001, is continually inspiring other countries. It requests, among others, that patient information be encrypted, access to it be password protected, etc.
In our concern to keep the homeopathic profession up to standards with the legal requirements of health care practice in general, the ECH endorses compliance to HIPAA standards for any individual or company dealing with homeopathic Protected Health Information (PHI).