The use of computer-interpretable clinical guidelines to manage care complexities of patients with multimorbid conditions: A review

Digit Health. 2018 Oct 3:4:2055207618804927. doi: 10.1177/2055207618804927. eCollection 2018 Jan-Dec.


Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) document evidence-based information and recommendations on treatment and management of conditions. CPGs usually focus on management of a single condition; however, in many cases a patient will be at the centre of multiple health conditions (multimorbidity). Multiple CPGs need to be followed in parallel, each managing a separate condition, which often results in instructions that may interact with each other, such as conflicts in medication. Furthermore, the impetus to deliver customised care based on patient-specific information, results in the need to be able to offer guidelines in an integrated manner, identifying and managing their interactions. In recent years, CPGs have been formatted as computer-interpretable guidelines (CIGs). This enables developing CIG-driven clinical decision support systems (CDSSs), which allow the development of IT applications that contribute to the systematic and reliable management of multiple guidelines. This study focuses on understanding the use of CIG-based CDSSs, in order to manage care complexities of patients with multimorbidity. The literature between 2011 and 2017 is reviewed, which covers: (a) the challenges and barriers in the care of multimorbid patients, (b) the role of CIGs in CDSS augmented delivery of care, and (c) the approaches to alleviating care complexities of multimorbid patients. Generating integrated care plans, detecting and resolving adverse interactions between treatments and medications, dealing with temporal constraints in care steps, supporting patient-caregiver shared decision making and maintaining the continuity of care are some of the approaches that are enabled using a CIG-based CDSS.

Keywords: Clinical decision support systems; clinical practice guidelines; computer-interpretable clinical guidelines; multimorbidity; patient-centred care.

Publication types

  • Review