Requirements for Medical Modeling Languages

A. A. F. van der Maas, A. H. M. ter Hofstede, A. J. ten Hoopen
2001 JAMIA Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association  
Software engineering practice in contemporary health care involves selecting existing methods and technology and applying them correctly. Examples include the use of object orientation, 1 componentbased development, 2 workflow modeling, 3 conceptual graphs, 4 graph grammars, 5 and decision networks. 6 However, in the development of complex dedicated applications-such as configurable patient record systems for research purposes, patient-recordbased reviewing systems, predictive data entry
more » ... , care process monitoring systems, patient case simulators, and case report retrieval-existing technology may be insufficient or unsuitable in some Affiliation of the authors: A b s t r a c t Objective: The development of tailor-made domain-specific modeling languages is sometimes desirable in medical informatics. Naturally, the development of such languages should be guided. The purpose of this article is to introduce a set of requirements for such languages and show their application in analyzing and comparing existing modeling languages. Design: The requirements arise from the practical experience of the authors and others in the development of modeling languages in both general informatics and medical informatics. The requirements initially emerged from the analysis of information modeling techniques. The requirements are designed to be orthogonal, i.e., one requirement can be violated without violation of the others. Results: The proposed requirements for any modeling language are that it be "formal" with regard to syntax and semantics, "conceptual," "expressive," "comprehensible," "suitable," and "executable." The requirements are illustrated using both the medical logic modules of the Arden Syntax as a running example and selected examples from other modeling languages. Conclusion: Activity diagrams of the Unified Modeling Language, task structures for work flows, and Petri nets are discussed with regard to the list of requirements, and various tradeoffs are thus made explicit. It is concluded that this set of requirements has the potential to play a vital role in both the evaluation of existing domain-specific languages and the development of new ones. s
doi:10.1136/jamia.2001.0080146 pmid:11230383 pmcid:PMC134554 fatcat:dyc62gatznb77nmzrkwyhzf4ka