Historically, guidelines for most clinical diseases have been published in print journals. This meant that a significant delay, often up to 3 or more years, between the decision to publish a new set of Guidelines to their publication owing to an onerous process. This included the time it took to gather the experts together, convene a series of meetings of the panel, have deliberations, reach consensus, write up and publish their recommendations. Sometimes delays were such that by the time that the Guidelines got into print, they were at risk of being outdated.
In the case of hepatitis C, with the revolution of the direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), the traditional process for creating guidelines were recognized as being inadequate to accommodate the rapidly changing field and make the guidelines accurate, current, and relevant. As such, the AASLD along with the IDSA embarked upon a novel and transformative approach to hepatitis C guidelines. Namely, they published the guidelines online in a web-based format that allows rapid updates and provides tremendous flexibility for the end user in terms of accessing information in just a click or two on their computer or device.
The first iteration of the guidelines appeared online in 2014 and has been widely applauded as meeting both the needs of clinicians in practice as well as assuring that what is online is accurate and up to date. Since the original publication of the guidelines online, they have been updated at least a dozen times, with major revisions in conjunction with the release of a new medication for the treatment of hepatitis C.