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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Canadian Virtual Health Library on Health Council’s clinical practice guidelines video project

Jennifer Bayne, Executive Director (Acting), CVHL/BVCS on behalf of the CVHL/BVCS Board of Directors

We commend the Council for leading a thoughtful, systematic analysis of how CPGs can become more useful and, hence, more used, across Canada. Access to quality information, such as CPGs, for all Canadian health professionals is the mandate of the Canadian Virtual Health Library/Bibliothèque virtuelle canadienne de la santé (CVHL/BVCS). On our website is a bilingual database that brings together the many free resources offering quality information relevant to Canada, including many trustworthy and credible sources of CPGs.

Underlying this work, and CVHL/BVCS generally, is a coordinated network of libraries, which have collections and expertise to connect health professionals to guidelines as well as resources to support their use, such as videos for professionals and plain language explanations to share with patients.

Guidelines are notorious for lacking a standard format. Whether CPGs are available in a journal, on a society web site, or through various agencies or levels of government, libraries have experience tracking them down. For example, the Canadian Medical Association's Infobase leads professionals to citations but not necessarily to the full guideline. This is where library collections and expertise come in, completing the link between clinician and CPG. CVHL/BVCS endeavors to make CPGs available virtually but also provides the back-up needed to address individual needs, including tracking down CPGs relevant to local practice. Through shared purchasing and economies of scale, commercial sources of CPGs and other high quality sources of evidence will become more widely available. When they graduate from university, newly trained professionals jump over the "e-resource cliff," losing access to the rich range of full text publications online provided by university libraries.

Taking another viewpoint, guideline development is restricted to settings with broad access to full text publications, which excludes many associations and organizations based outside of academia. CVHL/BVCS is moving to bridge this gap and ensure universal access to quality information, both for professionals not affiliated to a university and for staff in organizations synthesizing the literature into CPGs for professionals.

Integration of CPGs at the systems level requires a cross-disciplinary approach that builds capacity to adapt CPGs to local practice and extend them to address complex cases and different cultures and settings. Cross-disciplinary areas, such as substance abuse prevention, and complex cases with multi-morbidities go beyond existing CPGs.

CVHL/BVCS pools and shares collective knowledge for one-stop shopping. It supports clinicians in an approach tailored to local clinical capacity while reflecting the best evidence from various disciplines. This support encompasses extension of CPGs using the international literature, which increasingly recognizes multi-morbidity. As a hub for collaboration with a pan-Canadian mandate, CVHL/BVCS enables development of information technology solutions and collective repositories beyond the reach of single organizations or even regional consortia. To link CPGs in the electronic clinical environment, a knowledge base structured by clinical codes such as SNOMED are essential. Such an organized knowledge base integrating the myriad of resources, both free and commercial, including CPGs, needed by Canadian health professionals is a central goal of CVHL/BVCS.

We wish the Health Council of Canada every success in encouraging wider use of CPGs and hope that CVHL/BVCS can play a part by making quality information, such as CPGs, universally accessible.

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