Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making and BioMed Central.

Open Access Correspondence

Requirements for guidelines systems: implementation challenges and lessons from existing software-engineering efforts

Hemant Shah1*, Raymond D Allard1, Robert Enberg1, Ganesh Krishnan1, Patricia Williams1 and Prakash M Nadkarni2

Author Affiliations

1 Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, USA

2 Center for Medical Informatics, Yale University Medical School, New Haven, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2012, 12:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-12-16

Published: 9 March 2012

Abstract

Background

A large body of work in the clinical guidelines field has identified requirements for guideline systems, but there are formidable challenges in translating such requirements into production-quality systems that can be used in routine patient care. Detailed analysis of requirements from an implementation perspective can be useful in helping define sub-requirements to the point where they are implementable. Further, additional requirements emerge as a result of such analysis. During such an analysis, study of examples of existing, software-engineering efforts in non-biomedical fields can provide useful signposts to the implementer of a clinical guideline system.

Methods

In addition to requirements described by guideline-system authors, comparative reviews of such systems, and publications discussing information needs for guideline systems and clinical decision support systems in general, we have incorporated additional requirements related to production-system robustness and functionality from publications in the business workflow domain, in addition to drawing on our own experience in the development of the Proteus guideline system (http://proteme.org webcite).

Results

The sub-requirements are discussed by conveniently grouping them into the categories used by the review of Isern and Moreno 2008. We cite previous work under each category and then provide sub-requirements under each category, and provide example of similar work in software-engineering efforts that have addressed a similar problem in a non-biomedical context.

Conclusions

When analyzing requirements from the implementation viewpoint, knowledge of successes and failures in related software-engineering efforts can guide implementers in the choice of effective design and development strategies.