A community-of-practice-based evaluation methodology for knowledge intensive computational methods and its application to multimorbidity decision support

William Van Woensel, Samson W. Tu, Wojtek Michalowski, Syed Sibte Raza Abidi, Samina Abidi, Jose Ramon Alonso, Alessio Bottrighi, Marc Carrier, Ruth Edry, Irit Hochberg, Malvika Rao, Stephen Kingwell, Alexandra Kogan, Mar Marcos, Begoña Martínez Salvador, Martin Michalowski, Luca Piovesan, David Riaño, Paolo Terenziani, Szymon WilkMor Peleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The study has dual objectives. Our first objective (1) is to develop a community-of-practice-based evaluation methodology for knowledge-intensive computational methods. We target a whitebox analysis of the computational methods to gain insight on their functional features and inner workings. In more detail, we aim to answer evaluation questions on (i) support offered by computational methods for functional features within the application domain; and (ii) in-depth characterizations of the underlying computational processes, models, data and knowledge of the computational methods. Our second objective (2) involves applying the evaluation methodology to answer questions (i) and (ii) for knowledge-intensive clinical decision support (CDS) methods, which operationalize clinical knowledge as computer interpretable guidelines (CIG); we focus on multimorbidity CIG-based clinical decision support (MGCDS) methods that target multimorbidity treatment plans. Materials and methods: Our methodology directly involves the research community of practice in (a) identifying functional features within the application domain; (b) defining exemplar case studies covering these features; and (c) solving the case studies using their developed computational methods—research groups detail their solutions and functional feature support in solution reports. Next, the study authors (d) perform a qualitative analysis of the solution reports, identifying and characterizing common themes (or dimensions) among the computational methods. This methodology is well suited to perform whitebox analysis, as it directly involves the respective developers in studying inner workings and feature support of computational methods. Moreover, the established evaluation parameters (e.g., features, case studies, themes) constitute a re-usable benchmark framework, which can be used to evaluate new computational methods as they are developed. We applied our community-of-practice-based evaluation methodology on MGCDS methods. Results: Six research groups submitted comprehensive solution reports for the exemplar case studies. Solutions for two of these case studies were reported by all groups. We identified four evaluation dimensions: detection of adverse interactions, management strategy representation, implementation paradigms, and human-in-the-loop support. Based on our whitebox analysis, we present answers to the evaluation questions (i) and (ii) for MGCDS methods. Discussion: The proposed evaluation methodology includes features of illuminative and comparison-based approaches; focusing on understanding rather than judging/scoring or identifying gaps in current methods. It involves answering evaluation questions with direct involvement of the research community of practice, who participate in setting up evaluation parameters and solving exemplar case studies. Our methodology was successfully applied to evaluate six MGCDS knowledge-intensive computational methods. We established that, while the evaluated methods provide a multifaceted set of solutions with different benefits and drawbacks, no single MGCDS method currently provides a comprehensive solution for MGCDS. Conclusion: We posit that our evaluation methodology, applied here to gain new insights into MGCDS, can be used to assess other types of knowledge-intensive computational methods and answer other types of evaluation questions. Our case studies can be accessed at our GitHub repository (https://github.com/william-vw/MGCDS).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104395
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Benchmarking
  • Clinical
  • Computer-interpretable clinical guidelines
  • Decision support systems
  • Evaluation study
  • Multimorbidity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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