Clinical technologies projects
EU   Protocure
Improving medical protocols by formal methods
keywords Main objective
Clinical practice guidelines, formal methods, quality, safety, Asbru guideline representation language, systematic verification of guidelines, KIV interactive verification system. Protocure I: To assess the use of formal verification methods to improve the quality of clinical guideline and protocol applications.

Protocure II: To develop formal techniques and tools to support the development of high quality medical guidelines and protocols.

Project presentation
Protocure Motivation

" During the last decade, the approach of evidence-based medicine has given rise to an increasing number of medical practice protocols. However, the work done on developing and distributing protocols outweighs the efforts on guaranteeing their quality. Indeed, anomalies like ambiguity and incompleteness are frequent in medical protocols. Recent efforts have tried to address the problem of protocol improvement, but they are not sufficient since they rely on informal processes and notations. As a result, many practical protocols are still ambiguous or incomplete. Even when ambiguity and incompleteness are intentional, so that organisational or personal practices can be deployed, it is important to make them explicit. A different approach, grounded on a formal representation of protocols, can answer these needs. The proposed solution relies on an appropriate protocol representation language that allows for a systematic verification by formal methods. "


" The solution suggested to the problem of quality improvement of protocols consists in the utilisation of formal methods. It supposes the definition of an adequate protocol representation language, the development of techniques for the formal analysis of protocols described in that language and, more importantly, the evaluation of the feasibility of the approach based on the formalisation and verification of real-life medical protocols. For the first two aspects we will rely on earlier work by consortium partners, on the Asbru language for protocol description and on the KIV interactive verification system. The third aspect, namely the evaluation of the feasibility of the use of formal methods for quality improvement of protocols, constitutes the main objective of this assessment project. "


  • Protocure mailing list
  • Asbru protocol representation language [on OpenClinical]

    start date end date location support
    2001 Protocure I: one year assessment project to 2002.

    Protocure II: 2004-2006.


    EU 5FP

    EU Fifth Framework IST programme FET open assessment project (Future and Emerging Technologies).

    Protocure II: EU 6th Framework project.

    contact Website
    Mar Marcos
    Universitat Jaume I
    Marcos M, Balser M, ten Teije A et al. Experiences in the Formalisation and Verification of Medical Protocols. Proceedings of the 9th Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine in Europe (AIME-03), Cyprus, 18 – 22 October.

    [paper: Free University of Amsterdam]

    "Medical practice protocols or guidelines are statements to assist practitioners and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific circumstances. In order to reach their potential benefits, protocols must fulfill strong quality requirements. Medical bodies worldwide have made efforts in this direction, mostly using informal methods such as peer review of protocols. We are concerned with a different approach, namely the quality improvement of medical protocols by formal methods. In this paper we report on our experiences in the formalisation and verification of a real-world medical protocol.We have fully formalised a medical protocol in a two-stage formalisation process. Then, we have used a theorem prover to confirm whether the protocol formalisation complies with certain protocol properties. As a result, we have shown that formal verification can be used to analyse, and eventually improve, medical protocols."

    Entry in directory: September 21 2003
    Last main update: October 23 2003

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