Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Hospital administration

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to the Technological University Dublin 2004.


Clinical guidelines or protocols (CGPs) are statements that are systematically developed for the purpose of guiding the clinician and the patient in making decisions about appropriate healthcare for specific clinical problems. Using CGPs is one of the most effective and proven ways to attaining improved quality, optimised resource utilisation, cost containment and reduced variation in healthcare practice. CGPs exist mainly as paper-based natural language statements, but are increasingly being computerised. Supporting computerised CGPs in a healthcare environment so that they are incorporated into the routine used daily by clinicians is complex and presents major information management challenges. This thesis contends that the management of computerised CGPs should incorporate their manipulation (operations and queries), in addition to their specification and execution, as part of a single unified management framework. The thesis applies modern advanced database technology to the task of managing computerised CGPs. The event-condition-action (ECA) rule paradigm is recognised to have a huge potential in supporting computerised CGPs. In this thesis, a unified generic framework, called SpEM and an approach, called MonCooS, were developed for enabling computerised CGPs, to be specified by using a specification language, called PLAN, which follows the ECA rule paradigm; executed by using a software mechanism based on the ECA mechanism within a modern database system, and manipulated by using a manipulation language, called TOPSQL. The MonCooS approach focuses on providing clinicians with assistance in monitoring and coordinating clinical interventions while leaving the reasoning task to domain experts. A proof-of-concepts system, TOPS, was developed to show that CGP management can be easily attained, within the SpEM framework, by using the MonCooS approach. TOPS is used to evaluate the framework and approach in a case study to manage a microalbuminuria protocol for diabetic patients. SpEM and MonCooS were found to be promising in supporting the full-scale management of information and knowledge for the computerised clinical protocol. Active capability within modern DBMS is still experiencing significant limitations in supporting some requirements of this application domain. These limitations lead to pointers for further improvements in database management system (DBMS) functionality for ECA rule support. The main contributions of this thesis are: a generic and unified framework for the management of CGPs; a general platform and an advanced software mechanism for the manipulation of information and knowledge in computerised CGPs; a requirement for further development of the active functionality within modern DBMS; and a case study for the computer-based management of microalbuminuria in diabetes patients.