Archetype Re-use

Last Thursday & Friday @hughleslie and I presented a two day training course on openEHR clinical modelling. Introductory training typically starts with a day to provide an overview – the “what, why, how” about openEHR, a demo of the clinical modelling methodology and tooling, followed by setting the context about where and how it is being used around the world. Day Two is usually aimed at putting away the theoretical powerpoints and getting everyone involved – hands on modelling.

At the end of Day One I asked the trainees to select something they will need to model in coming months and set it as our challenge for the next day. We talked about the possibility health or discharge summaries – that’s pretty easy as we largely have the quite mature content for these and other continuity of care documents. What they actually sent through was an Antineoplastic Drug Administration Checklist, a Chemotherapy Ambulatory Care Nursing Intervention and Antineoplastic Drug Patient Assessment Tool! Sounded rather daunting! Although all very relevant to this group and the content they will have to create for the new oncology EHR they are building.

Perusing the Drug Checklist ifrst – it was easily apparent it going to need template comprising mostly ACTION archetypes but it meant starting with some fairly advanced modelling which wasn’t the intent as an initial learning exercise.. The Patient Assessment Tool, primarily a checklist, had its own tricky issues about what to persist sensibly in an EHR. So we decided to leave these two for Day Three or Four or..!

So our practical modelling task was to represent the Chemotherapy Ambulatory Care Nursing Intervention form. The form had been sourced from another hospital as an example of an existing form and the initial part of the analysis involved working out the intent of the form .

What I’ve found over years is that we as human beings are very forgiving when it comes to filling out forms – no matter how bad they are, clinical staff still endeavour to fill them out as best they can, and usually do a pretty amazing job. How successful this is from a data point of view, is a matter for further debate and investigation, I guess. There is no doubt we have to do a better job when we try to represent these forms in electronic format.

We also discussed that this modelling and design process was an opportunity to streamline and refine workflow and records rather than perpetuating outmoded or inappropriate or plain wrong ways of doing things.

So, an outline of the openEHR modelling methodology as we used it:

  1. Mind map the domain – identify the scope and level of detail required for modelling (in this case, representing just one paper form)
  2. Identify:
    1. existing archetypes ready for re-use;
    2. existing archetypes requiring modification or specialisation; and
    3. new archetypes needing development
  3. Specialise existing archetypes – in this case COMPOSITION.encounter to COMPOSITION.encounter-chemo with the addition of the Protocol/Cycle/Day of Cycle to the context
  4. Modify existing archetypes – in this case we identified a new requirement for a SLOT to contain CTCAE archetypes (identical to the SLOT added to the EVALUATION.problem_diagnosis archetype for the same purpose). Now in a formal operational sense, we should specialise (and thus validly extend) the archetype for our local use, and submit a request to the governing body for our additional requirements to be added to the governed archetype as a backwards compatible revision.
  5. Build new archetypes – in this case, an OBSERVATION for recording the state of the inserted intravenous access device. Don’t take too much notice of the content – we didn’t nail this content as correct by any means, but it was enough for use as an exercise to understand how to transfer our collective mind map thoughts directly to the Archetype Editor.
  6. Build the template.

So by the end of the second day, the trainee modellers had worked through a real-life use-case including extended discussions about how to approach and analyse the data, and with their own hands were using the clinical modelling tooling to modify the existing, and create new, archetypes to suit their specific clinical purpose.

What surprised me, even after all this time and experience, was that even in a relatively ‘new’ domain, we already had the bulk of the archetypes defined and available in the NEHTA CKM. It just underlines the fact that standardised and clinically verified core clinical content can be re-used effectively time and time again in multiple clinical contexts.The only area in our modelling that was missing, in terms of content, was how to represent the nurses assessment of the IV device before administering chemo and that was not oncology specific but will be a universal nursing activity in any specialty or domain.

So what were we able to re-use from the NEHTA CKM?

…and now that we have a use-case we could consider requesting adding the following from the openEHR CKM to the NEHTA instance:

And the major benefit from this methodology is that each archetype is freely available for use and re-use from a tightly governed library of models. This openEHR approach has been designed to specifically counter the traditional EHR development of locked-in, proprietary vendor data. An example of this problem is well explained in a timely and recent blog – The Stockholm Syndrome and EMRs! It is well worth a read. Increasingly, although not so obvious in the US, there is an increasing momentum and shift towards approaches that avoid health data lock-in and instead enable health information to be preserved, exchanged, aggregated, integrated and analysed in an open and non-proprietary format – this is liquid data; data that can flow.

5 thoughts on “Archetype Re-use

    • No, Jan-Marc, unfortunately not, although most of the latest iterations of the archetypes are in NEHTA CKM – in fact this was a paper form that we spontaneously started to use as a means for training novice archetypers – in fact most at the training hadn’t hear of openEHR before the 2 day education session. The aim of the training was to develop a template that was relevant to the trainees (not to the trainers!), re-using existing archetypes wherever possible, modifying/specialising those that needed enhancement and developing new archetypes only where totally new content was required. The most pleasing part of the training exercise, which was not completed, was that I was so pleasantly surprised at the re-usability of the archetypes. While I work with them everyday, even I become a bit blase at the practical re-usability and the value that this brings to the process of modelling and to the opportunity for ‘liquid data’.

      Regards, Heather

      • Hi Heather,

        Thanks for your reply. I was triggered by your post because we are developing a Android app to get cancer patients fitter during treatment. So specifically this topic raised my interest because we are developing such a archetype right now.

        But thanks for the nice post!


      • Please keep in touch – there seems to be a growing amount of interest at the moment for collaborative effort in developing cancer-related archetypes in Australia at present. It is possible they might be permitted to upload and get expert collaboration started on the NEHTA CKM over the next few months. Regards Heather

  1. Pingback: Town Hall Meeting – “Homework” | The openGPSoC Project

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