John McGrory, Frank Clarke, Jane Grimson, Peter Gaffney, Patient-Centred Laboratory Validation Using Software Agents, HEALTHINF, 2, 2008, 274-279
Guidelines are self-contained documents which healthcare professionals reference to obtain knowledge
about a specific condition or process. They interface with these documents and apply known facts about
specific patients to gain useful supportive information to aid in developing a diagnosis or manage a
condition. To automate this process a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and workflow
processes are constructed using the contents of these documents in order to manage the validation flow of a
patient sample. These processes decompose the guidelines into workflow plans, which are then called using
condition triggers controlled by a centralised management engine. The software BDI agent offers an
alternative dynamic which more closely matches the modus operandi of narrative based medical guidelines.
An agent’s beliefs capture information attributes, plans capture the deliberative and action attributes, and
desire captures the motivational attributes of the guideline in a self-contained autonomous software module.
Agents acting on behalf of guidelines which overlap and interweave in similar domains can collaborate and
coordinate in a loosely coupled fashion without the need for an all encompassing centralised plan.
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