New clearinghouse for guidelines

In the fall of 1998, clinical practice guidelines will be available to every medical professional and consumer via the Internet. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) in Rockville, MD, the Washington DC-based American Association of Health Plans, and the Chicago-based American Medical Association will work jointly to develop the new National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC).

It’s purpose is to help professionals and patients benefit from the growing volume of practice information. The site will make available a full range of current guidance on treatments for specific medical conditions.

"I think it will be well-used by people surfing the Internet and very helpful," says Louise Villejo, MPH, CHES, director of patient education at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a member of the committee that developed the patient education portion of the AHCPR Smoking Cessation Guidelines. Currently, she uses the Internet as an education resource at the MD Anderson Learning Center.

The NGC Web site will:

• contain standardized information for thousands of guidelines such as title, sponsoring organization, and author(s);

• provide guideline abstracts — and when possible — the full text of guidelines;

• compare and contrast the recommendations of guidelines on similar topics, with summaries covering major areas of agreement and disagreement;

• have topic-specific electronic mailing lists to enable registered users to communicate with one another on guideline development, dissemination, implementation, and use.

AHCPR has created clinical practice guidelines for several conditions including Managing Unstable Angina and Urinary Incontinence in Adults. To find out more about AHCPR research findings and publications, visit AHCPR’s home page on the World Wide Web at