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Interactive Media Systems, TU Wien

Leveraging workflow control patterns in the domain of clinical practice guidelines

By Katharina Kaiser and Mar Marcos


Background Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) include recommendations describing appropriate care for the management of patients with a specific clinical condition. A number of representation languages have been developed to support executable CPGs, with associated authoring/editing tools. Even with tool assistance, authoring of CPG models is a labor-intensive task. We aim at facilitating the early stages of CPG modeling task. In this context, we propose to support the authoring of CPG models based on a set of suitable procedural patterns described in an implementation-independent notation that can be then semi-automatically transformed into one of the alternative executable CPG languages.

Methods We have started with the workflow control patterns which have been identified in the fields of workflow systems and business process management. We have analyzed the suitability of these patterns by means of a qualitative analysis of CPG texts. Following our analysis we have implemented a selection of workflow patterns in the Asbru and PROforma CPG languages. As implementation-independent notation for the description of patterns we have chosen BPMN 2.0. Finally, we have developed XSLT transformations to convert the BPMN 2.0 version of the patterns into the Asbru and PROforma languages.

Results We showed that although a significant number of workflow control patterns are suitable to describe CPG procedural knowledge, not all of them are applicable in the context of CPGs due to their focus on single-patient care. Moreover, CPGs may require additional patterns not included in the set of workflow control patterns. We also showed that nearly all the CPG-suitable patterns can be conveniently implemented in the Asbru and PROforma languages. Finally, we demonstrated that individual patterns can be semi-automatically transformed from a process specification in BPMN 2.0 to executable implementations in these languages.

Conclusions We propose a pattern and transformation-based approach for the development of CPG models. Such an approach can form the basis of a valid framework for the authoring of CPG models. The identification of adequate patterns and the implementation of transformations to convert patterns from a process specification into different executable implementations are the first necessary steps for our approach.


K. Kaiser, M. Marcos: "Leveraging workflow control patterns in the domain of clinical practice guidelines"; BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 16 (2016), 20.


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