New Organization Says It Is Improving Presentation of Clinical Guidelines

A new nonprofit announced it will help fill the gap that was left earlier this year when federal budget cutbacks shut down a website that housed clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals.

A new nonprofit announced it will help fill the gap that was left earlier this year when federal budget cutbacks shut down a website that housed clinical guidelines for healthcare professionals.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an arm of HHS, shut down the AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) website due to the cuts. The shutdown included AHRQ’s National Quality Measures Clearinghouse.

The new nonprofit, The Alliance for the Implementation of Clinical Practice Guidelines (AiCPG), said recently it was launching Guideline Clearinghouse 2.0. AiCPG said it was created for the “charitable, educational and scientific purposes of freely disseminating evidence-based clinical practice guidelines information to the healthcare community in order to educate clinicians to improve patient care.”

Joel Harder, AiCPG’s executive director, said the new organization builds on what the AHRQ NGC achieved and adds various improvements:

  • Faster search function and searchable database for NGC Summaries
  • Better decision support
  • Improved data analytics
  • No membership fees
  • No user registration requirement
  • Free to use

“The initiative was developed with numerous organizations that have decades of experience in developing guidelines. AiCPG is taking the best parts of what the NGC achieved and developing this resource into something entirely new,” Harder said in a statement.

In the statement, James E. Tcheng, MD, FACC, FSCAI, who heads the organization’s board, said AiCPG won’t create a proprietary scoring system for guidelines and will allow users to search and filter guidelines that meet certain objective criteria.

AiCPG said it is governed by medical societies, and it has a number of advantages over other organizations also providing guidelines. One of its top priorities is to assist providers with the implementation of guideline recommendations.

Lisa M. Masson, MD, the board’s secretary, said their website includes “a feedback loop to allow users to communicate with guideline authors on topics such as the implementability of recommendations. The goal is to provide an open channel of communication that will help developers prioritize their limited resources, and eventually lead to more actionable recommendations.” AiCPG wants “key stakeholders to shape the present and future of this clearinghouse—not only the guideline developing organizations, but the end-users, as well,” she said.

Shortly after the government version of the website was shut down, other organizations stepped into the void, as well. One is the ECRI Institute, which said it would provide the guidelines for a fee, but last month said their portal would be free of charge.

In an email to The American Journal of Managed Care®, Harder said the AiCPG has an Ethics & Code of Conduct that says its clearinghouse will always be free. He said AiCPG is funded by an unrestricted grant.

Harder said the organization’s vendor is Guideline Central, which will also develop a mobile app. The app for AiCPG will launch next year.

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