A description and functional taxonomy of rule-based decision support content at a large integrated delivery network

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Jul-Aug 2007;14(4):489-96. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M2364. Epub 2007 Apr 25.


Objective: This study sought to develop a functional taxonomy of rule-based clinical decision support.

Design: The rule-based clinical decision support content of a large integrated delivery network with a long history of computer-based point-of-care decision support was reviewed and analyzed along four functional dimensions: trigger, input data elements, interventions, and offered choices.

Results: A total of 181 rule types were reviewed, comprising 7,120 different instances of rule usage. A total of 42 taxa were identified across the four categories. Many rules fell into multiple taxa in a given category. Entered order and stored laboratory result were the most common triggers; laboratory result, drug list, and hospital unit were the most frequent data elements used. Notify and log were the most common interventions, and write order, defer warning, and override rule were the most common offered choices.

Conclusion: A relatively small number of taxa successfully described a large body of clinical knowledge. These taxa can be directly mapped to functions of clinical systems and decision support systems, providing feature guidance for developers, implementers, and certifiers of clinical information systems.

MeSH terms

  • Classification*
  • Decision Making, Computer-Assisted*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems