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Archive (2016–2006)

Formally Defining Medical Processes

Journal: Methods of Information in Medicine
Subtitle: A journal stressing, for more than 50 years, the methodology and scientific fundamentals of organizing, representing and analyzing data, information and knowledge in biomedicine and health care
ISSN: 0026-1270
Issue: 2008 (Vol. 47): Issue 5 2008
Pages: 392-398

Formally Defining Medical Processes

S. Christov 1, B. Chen 1, G. S. Avrunin 1, L. A. Clarke 1, L. J. Osterweil 1, D. Brown 2, L. Cassells 2, W. Mertens2

1Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA 2D’Amour Center for Cancer Care, Springfield, MA, USA


process modeling, Medical safety, continuous process improvement


Objectives: To demonstrate a technology-based approach to continuously improving the safety of medical processes. Methods: The paper describes the Little-JIL process definition language, originally developed to support software engineering, and shows how it can be used to model medical processes. The paper describes a Little- JIL model of a chemotherapy process and demonstrates how this model, and some process analysis technologies that are also briefly described, can be used to identify process defects that pose safety risks. Results: Rigorously modeling medical processes with Little-JIL and applying automated analysis techniques to those models helped identify process defects and vulnerabilities and led to improved processes that were reanalyzed to show that the original defects were no longer present. Conclusions: Creating detailed and precisely defined models of medical processes that are then used as the basis for rigorous analyses can lead to improvements in the safety of these processes.

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