Practice Guidelines:

Overview of Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Efforts

T-HEHS-95-221: Published: Jul 25, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1995.

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GAO discussed the effectiveness of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research's (AHCPR) clinical practice guideline efforts. GAO noted that: (1) during its first 5 years, AHCPR performance has received mixed reviews from potential users of clinical practice guidelines; (2) while AHCPR has demonstrated strengths in the difficult process of guideline development and has received praise for its methodology, multidisciplinary panels, and emphasis on health care consumers, weaknesses in the guidelines themselves make them not very user-friendly; (3) AHCPR has been criticized for the broadness of the guideline topics selected and the formats in which these guidelines are published; (4) AHCPR is planning to respond to the criticisms by modifying its guideline development efforts to improve the timeliness and presentation of its clinical practice guidelines, and collecting information on the use of its guidelines from user groups; and (5) some of these groups have claimed cost savings and improved patient outcomes from implementing the guidelines.

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