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an Economist Intelligence Unit business healthcare

Bazian supports development of NICE’s clinical guidelines

June 14th 2012

NICE’s clinical guidelines are globally recognised for their quality and importance in encouraging safe, effective and consistent clinical practice. Evidence-based and consultatively developed, these guidelines are commonly regarded as the gold standard for describing best clinical practice in the NHS and beyond.

At Bazian, our mission is to ensure that decision-making in health is always informed by evidence and empirical data. We were delighted to work for NICE on the foundations of guideline development – an early part of the process known as “pre-scoping.” Over a few months, Bazian, with help from our friends at Solutions for Public Health, developed 22 pre-scoping papers for NICE across a range of clinical areas, from bronchiolitis and pneumonia to medically unexplained symptoms and optimising medicines usage.

But what, is a “pre-scoping paper?” The short answer is that it provides an overview to a guideline topic to help develop the scope of the forthcoming guideline. It describes what the guideline might reasonably seek to clarify, and which areas of the topic might benefit from especially close attention. This might be because practice or service delivery models are highly variable in those areas; or evidence and opinion are uncertain or conflicted, or because there are concerns about patient-related factors, safety, effectiveness or cost-effectiveness.

Why is this important? NICE’s clinical guidelines have gone a long way to ensure that practice is much more consistent and evidence-based than it was. The next step is to improve on the detail: to identify, prioritise and target guidelines specifically to areas where consistency and clinical quality remain variable, where evidence is confusing and where patients concerns remain unmet, in the domains of prevention, self-care, primary or secondary care.

To address these issues, we’re pleased to have worked to design and test a new tool for NICE: the pre-scoping paper. We hope it will prove useful in developing the next generation of NICE guidance.