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Clinical practice guidance should have more emphasis on health equity – HIQA

By Mindo - 26th Jan 2024

A review by HIQA has found there should be a greater emphasis on health equity in clinical practice guidelines.

The Authority has published a scoping review of advances in the development and implementation of clinical practice guidance to support the work of the national clinical effectiveness committee (NCEC).

This review was carried out as part of HIQA’s HRB-CICER function which independently reviews evidence and provides scientific support to the development of national clinical guidelines and to the NCEC.

In 2014, the NCEC was requested by the Minister for Health to develop standards for clinical practice guidance, which were published in 2015. HIQA’s scoping review aims to support the NCEC as it reviews and updates these standards to ensure they reflect innovations and current best practice.

Clinical practice guidance includes recommendations, processes or statements for healthcare professions which help guide care for patients with specific conditions. It aims to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare received by the public, and should be based on the best available evidence and practice.

Ms Michelle O’Neill, HIQA’s Deputy Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “Our review of international guidance development shows that the NCEC’s current standards for clinical practice guidance remain relevant and appropriate.”

“However, we did identify innovations which could improve the standards, such as further emphasis on health equity in clinical practice guidance development. While health equity has always been a consideration, including it throughout all phases of guidance development is now encouraged, especially in relation to populations such as older adults, patients with multiple chronic conditions, and marginalised groups.”

HIQA also identified three tools to assess the quality and or methodological robustness of clinical practice guidance and four other unique key innovations. Examples include new approaches to managing the constantly evolving evidence base and the use of artificial intelligence in searching for and identifying newly published evidence.

 Ms O’Neill continued: “We have shared the innovations in the development and implementation of clinical practice guidance identified in the review with the NCEC. We hope that these innovations can enhance the development and use of clinical practice guidance by healthcare professionals in Ireland.”

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