Continuing to raise standards in guidance production

To date 60 guidance development processes have gained accreditation; providing 5,496 accredited sources

Accreditation assesses the quality of the processes guidance producers use to develop their guidance.  This is to help to raise standards in guidance production and drive up the quality of information used by health and social care professionals in decision making.

To date 60 guidance development processes have gained accreditation; providing 5,496 accredited sources. Organisations whose processes were accredited in 2013 include the British Society of Gastroenterology, BOSCH Healthcare and the Royal College of Physicians for their abstracted CGS process.

On 1 April 2013, Martin Underwood, Professor of Primary Care Research and Head of the Division of Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School became the new Chair of the NICE Accreditation Advisory Committee. He replaced Professor David Haslam who became the new Chair of NICE.

Only guidance and advice from accredited processes is used to develop NICE quality standards. Accredited sources of guidance were used in the development of the following quality standards topics: ‘Supporting people to live well with dementia’, ‘Faecal incontinence’ and ‘Mental well-being of older people,’ which were published over this period.

In April 2013, we began a single guideline assessment pilot. The programme is used in exceptional circumstances where individual guidelines have been identified that could be useful for NICE quality standards, if accredited. The assessment of the individual guideline follows the same robust methodology, but no application form is needed from the guidance producer. Application is by invitation only. To date two guidelines have been accredited as part of the pilot.

A review of the accreditation process manual began in November 2013. Key areas of development included the process for accreditation renewal, timing of interim accreditation visits and public consultation on accreditation decisions. The revised manual is due to be published by the end of 2014.

First Databank (FDB): NICE accreditation and CDS

Over time the NICE Accreditation Programme has expanded to include Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems. FDB was the first CDS systems provider to achieve NICE accreditation for the processes used to produce the content for its drug knowledge database. FDB underwent its 18 month review in 2013.

Jane Connick, Business Systems Manager, said: “FDB was initially invited by NICE, alongside a number of other businesses, to become part of a pilot project. We attended a meeting with members of the accreditation team and in discussing the assessment criteria we could see how our processes would fit. We saw that accreditation assessment would be a good way for us to show the quality of the work we do and formalise our robust processes. We could also appreciate what NICE aimed to achieve with the programme: that is, to raise the standard of information available to improve patient care.

“Going through the NICE accreditation process does require you to have confidence in your product and processes as you are holding yourself up to scrutiny. However, it offers a valuable opportunity to identify where improvements can be made.

“We appreciate that the assessment needs to be rigorous since the aim of the NICE Accreditation Programme is to drive up the quality of information used by health and social care professionals in decision making. The accreditation process ensures a thorough and transparent evaluation, including technical analysis, peer review and consideration by the committee.

“From the feedback we've received we are confident that having independent validation by NICE of the processes used to develop the content in our drug knowledge database and clinical decision support products has raised the profile of the organisation, enhanced our reputation and increased customer confidence.

“All IT systems - including CDS systems - that are developed for the NHS market must meet safety standards set by the Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care (ISB). We have ISO 9001 and lots of quality assurance frameworks in place but there is nothing else out there that is equivalent to this programme.”