There has been much talk over the last few weeks about AHRQ‘s National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), and its unfortunate demise. Politics and potential motives aside, one of the most commonly echoed fears is that the 1,500+ clinical guideline summaries currently available on the NGC website will disappear forever. While that indeed would be terrible for the healthcare community if true, I am thrilled to report that this is NOT the case. I repeat – the guideline summaries, representing 20+ years of work, will NOT be lost forever. Let me explain…
First, every single summary on the NGC website can be downloaded in PDF, Word Document or XML file formats. So if you see a particular guideline summary you’d like to save for later, click the download button…it’s that easy! I know you might be thinking that this would be inconvenient and time-consuming to do for the entire database of 1,500 summaries, and you’d be right, however, I have some good news for you…
Many organizations (Guideline Central being one of them) have kept a running repository of the entire NGC guideline summaries database over the years. Other than a few rare exceptions where the guideline developers did not want the summaries further distributed to clinicians, nearly the entire database will remain intact. What this means is, even if the NGC servers are shut down at the end of the day on Monday, July 16th, the guidelines will remain available well after that time. Not only will these summaries remain accessible, but they will (as they always have) remain available for free.
You can access the National Guideline Clearinghouse summaries in two different ways:
- Online at https://www.guidelinecentral.com/summaries/
- Within the free Guideline Central mobile app found in iTunes and Google Play
Something to remember is that AHRQ or NGC author none of the guidelines currently in the National Guideline Clearinghouse. The authors of these guidelines are the medical specialty societies, and these medical associations will continue to publish guidelines with or without NGC. At the same time, these organizations recognize the convenience of having access to a centralized repository, which is why many have expressed interest in creating a new guideline repository to fill the gap left by NGC’s closure. Time will tell what the next iteration of a guideline clearinghouse could look like, but I can tell you that something will fill this void sooner rather than later. For now, know that these medical specialty societies spend a significant amount of time and money developing clinical guidelines, so if you value these guidelines and would like them to continue to be created, please show your support by visiting the websites and journals of these organizations.
I don’t think there’s any debate – the importance of having quick, easy and reliable access to current evidence-based practice guidelines cannot be overstated. While the loss of the National Guideline Clearinghouse is regrettable, there is no doubt that the future of guideline dissemination and implementation as a whole is still very bright. The closure of AHRQ’s National Guideline Clearinghouse is just a temporary setback.
If you are interested in learning more about the work being done to support the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based guidelines, you can reach us by using the contact form.