AOA Clinical Practice Guideline Accepted to National Guideline Clearinghouse in Record Time

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The AOA Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) for pediatric eye care represents a milestone, and now so does its national recognition timeline!  Two days after being submitted, the AOA’s newest clinical practice guideline for pediatric eye care has been recognized by acceptance to the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) .  The speedy NGC acceptance of this CPG, which may take months, reflects our EBO Committee’s strict adherence to AHRQ and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) standards.

The NGC is a database of clinical guidelines maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Accepted guidelines from across the health care spectrum housed in the NGC must meet rigorous, evidence-based standards. Once a final abstract is prepared and reviewed by the NGC, the AOA’s Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Comprehensive Pediatric Eye and Vision Examination will be posted.  I am incredibly proud of this third AOA CPG developed by the AOA Evidence-based Optometry (EBO) Committee over the past six years. Dr. Andrea Thau, AOA President, is quoted as stating “This is fantastic news and a reflection of the outstanding work of the entire EBO team of volunteers and staff.”  The guideline reflects a systematic review and rigorous assessment by the EBO Committee, along with additional experts including other doctors of optometry, a pediatrician, a social worker, and parent advocate.

National recognition through posting to the clearinghouse means the guideline for pediatric eye and vision care has met stringent NGC standards.  It also represents a critical advocacy effort on behalf of the profession and patients that we serve. Fundamental to the doctor-patient relationship is the use of high quality evidence in making clinical care decisions including understanding the pros and cons (i.e., risks and benefits) of all treatment options available based on the relevant clinical situation at hand.  Evidence plays a key role in patient engagement which is a key driver of high quality care and desired outcomes.  It took the AOA EBO several years to develop and implement our process; it is highlighted within each CPG for transparency.  This, along with our continual review and process improvement as part of our Committee feedback loop, reflects best practices in evidence-based clinical care for doctors of optometry and other AOA committees to reference.  And, this also contributed to us achieving NGC recognition in record time.  A huge shout out to the entire AOA EBO Committee and staff who are tireiess advocates for EBO!

As I have mentioned before, the CPG is a necessary high-quality resource and readily available tool for supporting quality patient care.  Approved by the AOA Board of Trustees, and following an intensive process developed by the AOA EBO Team, this guideline offers something for everyone:  evidence for doctors’ clinical decision making; recommendations related to developmental factors and preventing vision loss; and important actions that parents, health care providers, public health leaders, professionals, and other stakeholders can take to ensure children receive optimal care for a lifetime of good health.  It’s been a true labor of love to have been there from early on and developing our AOA EBO processes, and since then seeing our team grow and also authoring three AOA CPGs, all accepted by the NGC.  I love putting my knowledge of health services research and skills in health advocacy to use, by directly contributing to our nation’s understanding of high quality eye and vision care while advancing the role that doctors of optometry have in leading the nation to improved health.  This is incredibly important professional advocacy and leadership to the profession and to communities that need our care.  The good news is that we can ALL advocate together – with your help in dissemination and integration of the information continued in these AOA guidelines, everyone advocates in this critical area – spread the word in your practice, community, and networks that quality evidence in eye care matters to the overall health of us all, no matter what age!

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