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Government Websites Hosting 20 Years' Worth of Guidelines Data to End

Allison Inserro
Providers, payers, and patients looking to do research on a clinical guideline need to get busy: They only have this weekend to download thousands of pages from federally funded websites that will close due to federal budget cuts in President Donald Trump’s budget.
Providers, payers, and patients looking to do research on a clinical guideline need to get busy: they only have this weekend to download thousands of pages from federally-funded websites, until (or if) another solution is found.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an arm of HHS, can no longer support the AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) website due to federal budget cuts in President Donald Trump’s budget. The site, as well as AHRQ’s National Quality Measures Clearinghouse, will also close Monday, July 16, 2018.

In a statement on the website, AHRQ said it is “receiving expressions of interest from stakeholders interested in carrying on NGC's work.” It is not yet clear, though, if those efforts will be successful.

When it launched in 1998, the NGC site was described as a “science-based shortcut” offering access to thousands of clinical guidelines that had been carefully vetted by medical specialty associations, professional societies, public or private organizations, government agencies, or healthcare organizations or plans.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was involved in the creation of the clearinghouse early on, through its precursor organizations (AHIP was formed by the merger of the American Association of Health Plans and the Health Insurance Association of America),

“We believe it is important for providers to have access to evidence-based guidelines when they need them, which is why health insurance providers were an early supporter and sponsor of this project,” said Cathryn Donaldson, director of communications for AHIP. “We understand the Agency has had inquiries from parties interested in hosting this resource and it is our hope that a solution can be found that would keep this valuable resource available to the health care community.”

AHRQ stopped publishing summaries of new and updated evidence-based clinical practice guidelines earlier this month.

Close to 50 medical specialties are represented on the site, with over 1400 documents.

According to a post by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the ECRI Institute (formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute), a nonprofit organization that has run the websites through a government contract since its inception, is trying to see if a guideline repository could be maintained.

 
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