Clinical guidelines innovation forges ahead

In an Australian first, the Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management have reached an important milestone, officially entering “living” mode.

The pilot project utilises technology and processes to identify and rapidly translate the latest and best medical discoveries into clinical practice, saving lives and improving health outcomes from stroke.

It is being delivered by the Australian Government in partnership with Stroke Foundation and Cochrane Australia and involves a working group of more than 100 stroke experts and stroke survivors.

Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Chair Professor Bruce Campbell said the living guidelines model provided certainty to health professionals treating stroke patients.

“Living guidelines empower health professionals to deliver the very best in stroke treatment and care and are already having an impact on the way stroke was treated,” Prof Campbell said.

Important new topics have included:

Doubling the time window for blood clot dissolving drugs (thrombolysis) to nine hours in patients who are unavoidably delayed in reaching hospital, but still have imaging evidence of brain to save.

Closure of a hole in the heart (PFO) in young stroke survivors where no other cause is found.

Associate Professor Julian Elliott, Living Evidence Consortium Chair, Cochrane Australia Global Lead of Evidence Systems and Senior Research Fellow, said the living guidelines project cut through the thousands of research trials published every month.

“The Living Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management draw on latest evidence synthesis technologies developed by Cochrane, partners and world-leading software platforms (Covidence and MAGICapp).”

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the living guidelines model provided a next generation solution for health evidence translation – not only for stroke, but hopefully for other diseases in the future.

“Improvements in treatment and care keep coming and this is a way to ensure clinical recommendations are not out of date shortly after their release. The technology could easily be adapted,” Ms McGowan said.

“All Australians deserve world class health care. Evidence based clinical practice guidelines are key to establishing effective, high quality, consistent and safe healthcare practices and policies.”

The three-year Stroke Foundation living guidelines pilot project is supported by the Australian government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The project was announced by Australian Health Minister the Hon Greg Hunt MP in August 2018.

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