Sharable computer-based clinical practice guidelines: Rationale, obstacles, approaches, and prospects

Robert A. Greenes, Mor Peleg, Aziz Boxwala, Samson Tu, Vimla Patel, Edward H. Shortliffe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Clinical practice guideline automation at the point of care is of growing interest, yet most guidelines are authored in unstructured narrative form. Computer-based execution depends on a formal structured representation, and also faces a number of other challenges at all stages of the guideline lifecycle: modeling, authoring, dissemination, implementation, and update. This is because of the multiplicity of conceptual models, authoring tools, authoring approaches, intended applications, implementation platforms, and local interface requirements and operational constraints. Complexity and time required for development and structure are also huge obstacles. These factors argue for convergence on a common shared model for representation that can be the basis of dissemination. A common model would facilitate direct interpretation or mapping to multiple implementation environments. GLIF (GuideLine Interchange Format) is a formal representation model for guidelines, created by the InterMed Collaboratory as a proposed basis for a shared representation. GLIF currently addresses the process of authoring and dissemination; the InterMed team's major focus now is on tools to facilitate these tasks and the mapping to clinical information system environments. Because of limitations in what can be done by a single team with finite resources, however, and the variety of additional perspectives that need to be accommodated, the InterMed team has determined that further development of a shared representation would be best served as an open process in which the world community is engaged. Under the auspices of the HL7 Decision Support Technical Committee, a GLIF Special Interest Group has been established, which is intended to be a forum for collaborative refinement and extension of a standard representation that can support the needs of the guideline lifecycle. Significant areas for future work will need to include demonstrations of effective means for incorporating guidelines at point of care, reconciliation of functional requirements of different models and identification of those most important for supporting practical implementation, improved means for authoring and management of complexity, and methods for automatically analyzing and validating syntax, semantics, and logical consistency of guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMEDINFO 2001 - Proceedings of the 10th World Congress on Medical Informatics
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)1586031945, 9781586031947
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes
Event10th World Congress on Medical Informatics, MEDINFO 2001 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sep 20055 Sep 2005

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365


Conference10th World Congress on Medical Informatics, MEDINFO 2001
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Clinical practice guideline
  • knowledge representation
  • standards development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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