A new manual for preparing clinical guidelines was completed

Today, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tartu, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund and WHO introduce a new Estonian manual for the preparation of clinical guidelines. It provides instructions on how to prepare evidence-based clinical guidelines, which help to increase the quality of treatment. In the near future, guidelines on the treatment of a patient with hypertension prepared on the basis of the new manual will be completed. In addition, a new website will be introduced on the address www.ravijuhend.ee. It will incorporate Estonian clinical guidelines and the materials related to the preparation of these guidelines. A joint session introducing the process will be held within the framework of the Anniversary Scientific Conference of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tartu.

As a result of cooperation between the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, WHO experts and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tartu, the system for the preparation of Estonian clinical guidelines has been significantly renewed. The project for the modernisation of the preparation of Estonian clinical guidelines already begun at the end of 2009. The newly developed manual is the final result of the process.

The manual is intended to be used by different interest groups. It provides instructions on how to prepare up-to-date, evidence-based and cost-efficient clinical guidelines appropriate for the circumstances of Estonia. The clinical guidelines, which give answers to relevant clinical issues, support the implementation of evidence-based health, a systematic approach to health, improve the quality of treatment and harmonise clinical discussion.

“In recent years, the revision of the bases for developing clinical guidelines with the purpose of improving the quality of health services and introducing evidence-based medicine has been a priority for WHO in Estonia. We spent two years learning from both international and Estonian experiences acquired so far and involving several experts and their knowledge, and developed the manual introduced today. Its purpose is to provide common principles for preparing clinical guidelines in the future. I sincerely hope that the clinical guidelines prepared on the basis of the new principles provide support for health care professionals in making their everyday treatment decisions,” said Jarno Habicht, the Acting Managing Director of the WHO office in Estonia and WHO representative in the Republic of Moldavia.

Member of the Board of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, Mari Mathiesen, admitted that Estonia has had more than ten years of experiences in preparing clinical guidelines. “In updating the process, we have added our best international practice to this experience. It is clear that in the interests of the quality of clinical guidelines, no concessions can be made in the principles of evidence-based practice. However, the opportunities and capacity of a small country must be taken into account. In order to obtain the best result, it is important to continue cooperation between the parties. In order to do so, we are planning to significantly expand the membership and role of the Guideline Advisory Board,” said Mathiesen.

In the near future, the first guidelines on the treatment of patients with hypertension at the family doctor level prepared on the basis of the new manual will be completed.

“Clinical guidelines save lives by avoiding significant treatment mistakes. Hypertension was chosen as the topic of the sample guidelines as it is a disease which is the leading cause of death in Estonia as well as in the whole world. In addition, the preparation of the sample guidelines gave valuable feedback on the usability of the manual for the preparation of clinical guidelines in practice. I have participated in the preparation of clinical guidelines and I am glad to admit that based on the completed manual, the process of making suggestions for clinical guidelines was significantly clearer and more transparent than before. The final result will be a manual which should be very easy to use for a practical doctor,” commented Ruth Kalda, the head of the working group of sample guidelines and a family doctor.

The new manual is available for all interested parties on the website www.ravijuhend.ee. A new environment supporting the preparation of clinical guidelines and work processes has been developed. It includes all the information related to clinical guidelines, clinical guidelines completed on the basis of new principles and the information necessary for preparing them.

The project of developing clinical guidelines has not come to an end with the completion of the manual. By the end of this year, the Guideline Advisory Board managed by the Faculty of Medicine will be convened. Its task will be to coordinate the process of the Estonian clinical guidelines. Next year, trainings on the preparation of clinical guidelines will be organised for various target groups. In addition, there are plans to develop the website www.ravijuhend.ee further.