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Reminder systems and clinical medical librarian services often provide information to clinicians without requiring that a clinician actively seek information. This characteristic may explain in part the effectiveness and high clinician acceptance of these systems. We term systems with this characteristic "information pretrieval systems" to distinguish them from information retrieval systems, which require a clinician to articulate an information need in the form of a query. Because of the increasing importance of information pretrieval systems in medical care, we have developed a decision-theoretic model of an ideal information pretrieval system. In this paper, we present this model and suggest its use as an analytic framework for understanding existing approaches, and as a formal basis for a functioning pretrieval system.