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1.  How to translate therapeutic recommendations in clinical practice guidelines into rules for critiquing physician prescriptions? Methods and application to five guidelines 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines give recommendations about what to do in various medical situations, including therapeutical recommendations for drug prescription. An effective way to computerize these recommendations is to design critiquing decision support systems, i.e. systems that criticize the physician's prescription when it does not conform to the guidelines. These systems are commonly based on a list of "if conditions then criticism" rules. However, writing these rules from the guidelines is not a trivial task. The objective of this article is to propose methods that (1) simplify the implementation of guidelines' therapeutical recommendations in critiquing systems by automatically translating structured therapeutical recommendations into a list of "if conditions then criticize" rules, and (2) can generate an appropriate textual label to explain to the physician why his/her prescription is not recommended.
Methods
We worked on the therapeutic recommendations in five clinical practice guidelines concerning chronic diseases related to the management of cardiovascular risk. We evaluated the system using a test base of more than 2000 cases.
Results
Algorithms for automatically translating therapeutical recommendations into "if conditions then criticize" rules are presented. Eight generic recommendations are also proposed; they are guideline-independent, and can be used as default behaviour for handling various situations that are usually implicit in the guidelines, such as decreasing the dose of a poorly tolerated drug. Finally, we provide models and methods for generating a human-readable textual critique. The system was successfully evaluated on the test base.
Conclusion
We show that it is possible to criticize physicians' prescriptions starting from a structured clinical guideline, and to provide clear explanations. We are now planning a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the impact of the system on practices.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-31
PMCID: PMC2893080  PMID: 20509903
2.  Using data mining techniques to explore physicians' therapeutic decisions when clinical guidelines do not provide recommendations: methods and example for type 2 diabetes 
Background
Clinical guidelines carry medical evidence to the point of practice. As evidence is not always available, many guidelines do not provide recommendations for all clinical situations encountered in practice. We propose an approach for identifying knowledge gaps in guidelines and for exploring physicians' therapeutic decisions with data mining techniques to fill these knowledge gaps. We demonstrate our method by an example in the domain of type 2 diabetes.
Methods
We analyzed the French national guidelines for the management of type 2 diabetes to identify clinical conditions that are not covered or those for which the guidelines do not provide recommendations. We extracted patient records corresponding to each clinical condition from a database of type 2 diabetic patients treated at Avicenne University Hospital of Bobigny, France. We explored physicians' prescriptions for each of these profiles using C5.0 decision-tree learning algorithm. We developed decision-trees for different levels of detail of the therapeutic decision, namely the type of treatment, the pharmaco-therapeutic class, the international non proprietary name, and the dose of each medication. We compared the rules generated with those added to the guidelines in a newer version, to examine their similarity.
Results
We extracted 27 rules from the analysis of a database of 463 patient records. Eleven rules were about the choice of the type of treatment and thirteen rules about the choice of the pharmaco-therapeutic class of each drug. For the choice of the international non proprietary name and the dose, we could extract only a few rules because the number of patient records was too low for these factors. The extracted rules showed similarities with those added to the newer version of the guidelines.
Conclusion
Our method showed its usefulness for completing guidelines recommendations with rules learnt automatically from physicians' prescriptions. It could be used during the development of guidelines as a complementary source from practice-based knowledge. It can also be used as an evaluation tool for comparing a physician's therapeutic decisions with those recommended by a given set of clinical guidelines. The example we described showed that physician practice was in some ways ahead of the guideline.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-9-28
PMCID: PMC2700100  PMID: 19515252
3.  Design of a graphical and interactive interface for facilitating access to drug contraindications, cautions for use, interactions and adverse effects 
Background
Drug iatrogeny is important but could be decreased if contraindications, cautions for use, drug interactions and adverse effects of drugs described in drug monographs were taken into account. However, the physician's time is limited during consultations, and this information is often not consulted. We describe here the design of "Mister VCM", a graphical interface based on the VCM graphical language, facilitating access to drug monographs. We also provide an assessment of the usability of this interface.
Methods
The "Mister VCM" interface was designed by dividing the screen into two parts: a graphical interactive one including VCM icons and synthetizing drug properties, a textual one presenting on demand drug monograph excerpts. The interface was evaluated over 11 volunteer general practitioners, trained in the use of "Mister VCM". They were asked to answer clinical questions related to fictitious randomly generated drug monographs, using a textual interface or "Mister VCM". When answering the questions, correctness of the responses and response time were recorded.
Results
"Mister VCM" is an interactive interface that displays VCM icons organized around an anatomical diagram of the human body with additional mental, etiological and physiological areas. Textual excerpts of the drug monograph can be displayed by clicking on the VCM icons. The interface can explicitly represent information implicit in the drug monograph, such as the absence of a given contraindication. Physicians made fewer errors with "Mister VCM" than with text (factor of 1.7; p = 0.034) and responded to questions 2.2 times faster (p < 0.001). The time gain with "Mister VCM" was greater for long monographs and questions with implicit replies.
Conclusion
"Mister VCM" seems to be a promising interface for accessing drug monographs. Similar interfaces could be developed for other medical domains, such as electronic patient records.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-21
PMCID: PMC2442832  PMID: 18518945
4.  An iconic language for the graphical representation of medical concepts 
Background
Many medication errors are encountered in drug prescriptions, which would not occur if practitioners could remember the drug properties. They can refer to drug monographs to find these properties, however drug monographs are long and tedious to read during consultation. We propose a two-step approach for facilitating access to drug monographs. The first step, presented here, is the design of a graphical language, called VCM.
Methods
The VCM graphical language was designed using a small number of graphical primitives and combinatory rules. VCM was evaluated over 11 volunteer general practitioners to assess if the language is easy to learn, to understand and to use. Evaluators were asked to register their VCM training time, to indicate the meaning of VCM icons and sentences, and to answer clinical questions related to randomly generated drug monograph-like documents, supplied in text or VCM format.
Results
VCM can represent the various signs, diseases, physiological states, life habits, drugs and tests described in drug monographs. Grammatical rules make it possible to generate many icons by combining a small number of primitives and reusing simple icons to build more complex ones. Icons can be organized into simple sentences to express drug recommendations. Evaluation showed that VCM was learnt in 2 to 7 hours, that physicians understood 89% of the tested VCM icons, and that they answered correctly to 94% of questions using VCM (versus 88% using text, p = 0.003) and 1.8 times faster (p < 0.001).
Conclusion
VCM can be learnt in a few hours and appears to be easy to read. It can now be used in a second step: the design of graphical interfaces facilitating access to drug monographs. It could also be used for broader applications, including the design of interfaces for consulting other types of medical document or medical data, or, very simply, to enrich medical texts.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-16
PMCID: PMC2413217  PMID: 18435838

Results 1-4 (4)