National Guideline Clearinghouse Website Shuts Down

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ’s) National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) website, a resource providing physicians with medical guidelines and care recommendations, was shut down by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on July 16 as funding to support the program ended. The closure follows years of funding cuts and financial uncertainty for the program. It is unclear whether the site will be revived, either through government or alternative funding.

The NGC was created in 1998 by the AHRQ in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. That partnership ended in 2002, and, since then, the NGC has been operated solely by AHRQ, a division of HHS. According to AHRQ, the website received about 200,000 visits each month, mostly from doctors and other health-care providers.

Physician groups lamented the resource’s disappearance, citing its unique value as a clearinghouse. “You’re going to have to … search to find [the guidelines], as opposed to being able to go to one spot,” said American Academy of Family Physicians President Michael Munger, MD.

The shutdown announcement was accompanied by indications that the resource could be revived in the future by unnamed stakeholders. “We are exploring options to sustain the [clearinghouse] and will share more information when it becomes available,” said an AHRQ spokeswoman, who went on to add that doctors should be able to find similar resources from “organizations that develop guidelines, medical specialty societies, health networks, and others.”

Source: CNN, July 16, 2018.