Where Are The Guidelines Now? Three Months After the Closure of AHRQ’s NGC

It’s been roughly three months since the closure of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) on July 16, 2018. The defunding and closure of NGC left a significant gap in the healthcare community that yet remains to be filled. AHRQ stated that approximately 2.4 million healthcare professionals visited the NGC each year to find and access the brief clinical practice guidelines, which means since July over 600,000 healthcare professionals have been left without access to this important resource. Let’s look at what different resources are available and what may be coming in the future.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
AHRQ has contracted with the MITRE Corporation to begin a new 12-month study to help identify new models for disseminating and accessing quick-reference evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. The 12-month project is intended to build on AHRQ’s previous support for the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), and will survey stakeholders in the hopes of finding new approaches to creating a repository of trustworthy guidelines and briefs. Unfortunately, the 12-month contract only started in August 2018, so we may be anxiously waiting for another 9+ months until we hear any news or see what comes as a results of those surveys. Leaving an additional gap in the healthcare community.

Guideline Central
Guideline Central has continued to operate the existing archive of the National Guideline Clearinghouse summaries in both web and mobile app formats. While this has provided clinicians with an alternative for accessing the historical record of what was included within NGC when the doors shut 3 months ago, it does not address additions or amendments moving forward. If you’re looking for the newer guidelines, you can subscribe to Guideline Central’s official society-approved pocket guides that offer similar content (but usually more information) to the summaries that were in the National Guideline Clearinghouse. In addition to the the similar content, they also include algorithms, charts, tables, CPT and ICD10 codes and other supplemental information. The digital versions also include functionalities like interactive calculators, notes and deep links to drugs.

ECRI Institute
When the NGC shutdown, the ECRI Institute (a contract partner to AHRQ) announced that they would be launching a similar online tool to what was found in the National Guideline Clearinghouse. However, we are still awaiting ECRI’s announced guideline brief repository which was originally planned to launch in September. While it will be great to have stopgap with new guidelines available online, the collective community was disappointed by the fact it will be based on a paid subscription model rather than freely available. Only time will tell if ECRI will take the community’s feedback into account and launch the resource soon, sans the paid subscription model.

The Alliance for the Implementation of Clinical Practice Guidelines
A new non-profit alliance comprised of various medical societies and healthcare organizations has been working quietly behind the scenes for the last few months. This organization, known as The Alliance for the Implementation of Clinical Practice Guidelines (AiCPG), is preparing to formally announce its recently completed project plan to build a new guideline repository to follow in the footsteps of NGC. AiCPG differs from previously announced plans because its guideline clearinghouse will be offered to all users free of charge. It will also focus more on the implementation of clinical guidelines versus the appraisal of them. Their online tool and app is set to launch in Q1 2019 and we expect a formal announcement soon.

We will continue to keep you posted on this important topic as new information becomes available. For now you can access over 1,500 guidelines briefs and summaries from the previous NGC online for free here – https://www.guidelinecentral.com/summaries/

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