Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve the quality of care, reduce unjustified practice variations and reduce healthcare costs. In order for them to be effective, clinical guidelines need to be integrated with the care flow and provide patient-specific advice when and where needed. Hence, their formalization as computer-interpretable guidelines (CIGs) makes it possible to develop CIG-based decision-support systems (DSSs), which have a better chance of impacting clinician behavior than narrative guidelines. This paper reviews the literature on CIG-related methodologies since the inception of CIGs, while focusing and drawing themes for classifying CIG research from CIG-related publications in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics (JBI). The themes span the entire life-cycle of CIG development and include: knowledge acquisition and specification for improved CIG design, including (1) CIG modeling languages and (2) CIG acquisition and specification methodologies, (3) integration of CIGs with electronic health records (EHRs) and organizational workflow, (4) CIG validation and verification, (5) CIG execution engines and supportive tools, (6) exception handling in CIGs, (7) CIG maintenance, including analyzing clinician's compliance to CIG recommendations and CIG versioning and evolution, and finally (8) CIG sharing. I examine the temporal trends in CIG-related research and discuss additional themes that were not identified in JBI papers, including existing themes such as overcoming implementation barriers, modeling clinical goals, and temporal expressions, as well as futuristic themes, such as patient-centric CIGs and distributed CIGs.
Keywords: Clinical practice guidelines; Computer-interpretable clinical guidelines; Decision-support systems; Knowledge representation.
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