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IEEE Trans Inf Technol Biomed. 1998 Dec;2(4):217-28.

Decision support and disease management: a logic engineering approach.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London, U.K.


This paper describes the development and application of PROforma, a unified technology for clinical decision support and disease management. Work leading to the implementation of PROforma has been carried out in a series of projects funded by European agencies over the past 13 years. The work has been based on logic engineering, a distinct design and development methodology that combines concepts from knowledge engineering, logic programming, and software engineering. Several of the projects have used the approach to demonstrate a wide range of applications in primary and specialist care and clinical research. Concurrent academic research projects have provided a sound theoretical basis for the safety-critical elements of the methodology. The principal technical results of the work are the PROforma logic language for defining clinical processes and an associated suite of software tools for delivering applications, such as decision support and disease management procedures. The language supports four standard objects (decisions, plans, actions, and enquiries), each of which has an intuitive meaning with well-understood logical semantics. The development toolset includes a powerful visual programming environment for composing applications from these standard components, for verifying consistency and completeness of the resulting specification and for delivering stand-alone or embeddable applications. Tools and applications that have resulted from the work are described and illustrated, with examples from specialist cancer care and primary care. The results of a number of evaluation activities are included to illustrate the utility of the technology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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