User-friendly access to guidelines on the way

By fall 1998, anyone with access to the Internet — physicians, health plan administrators, providers, purchasers, and consumers — will also have access to clinical practice guidelines. The American Medical Association in Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Health Care Policy and Research in Rockville, MD, and the American Association of Health Plans in Washington, DC, are working jointly to develop and launch a new Web-based National Guideline Clearinghouse.

The Web site will contain standardized information including title, sponsoring organization, author, and methodology. Abstracts or full text will appear. Visitors to the site will see guideline recommendations on similar topics compared and contrasted. There will be summaries covering major areas of agreement and disagreement.

Existing documents, even those on related topics, differ in development and content, and individuals and organization administrators who could benefit from their use have had difficulty keeping abreast of the information. They have not been able to easily sort them out. Easy centralized access will help address that problem.