Clinical practice guidelines. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research fosters the development of evidence-based guidelines.Health Prog. 1992 Dec; 73(10):30-4.HP
As medical technology increases rapidly and becomes more complex, clinical practice guidelines can help healthcare providers assess current practices and integrate technological advances. Through the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), the federal government has begun to facilitate the development of clinical practice guidelines. Expert or contract panels, authorized by the AHCPR, develop guidelines on specific clinical conditions. The AHCPR guideline methodology is designed to produce evidence-based guidelines that are valid, clinically applicable, and clinically flexible. Each panel spends a year or more developing the guideline, beginning with an extensive literature search and review. The panel prepares evidence tables, statistically analyzes aggregate data (where appropriate), conducts harm and benefit analyses, and prepares health policy analyses (or cost-impact studies). During this process, the panel holds an open forum to solicit comments on the guideline topic. After this public discussion, the panel prepares a final draft of the guideline. Several hundred individuals review the guideline. Some policymakers believe clinical practice guidelines can lead to better healthcare outcomes. Guidelines can provide information in a useful format for clinicians to use at the bedside or the point of decision making in patient care. Guidelines also provide information that can be used in continuing education and professional education programs.