A congressional report backs up a federal agency's decision to drop its clinical practice guideline development and instead assist private-sector providers in drafting their own guidelines.
Because numerous organizations already draft guidelines, medical officials at health plans believe the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research should assume an "alternative role" in guideline development, according to a report by the General Accounting Office.
Officials at health plans told the GAO, Congress' investigative arm, that it is a waste of resources for the federal government and the private sector to write guidelines on the same topics. The practice often results in conflicting recommendations.
They told the GAO that the AHCPR and other federal agencies should publish and update information on diseases and treatments, which the plans can use to update private guidelines. Other recommended roles would be to provide tools to assist in the development of guidelines and fund outcomes research and technology assessment.
AHCPR officials already have said they will withdraw from guideline development and instead collect data to assist private-sector providers in drafting guidelines, evaluate guideline development and use, and collect a national database of published guidelines.