Anatomy of a Procedure

ACTION archetypes are one of the harder concepts to grasp in the openEHR clinical modeling world.

ACTIONs appear to be promising the world – allowing for recording all activities from planning, scheduling, postponing, cancelling, suspending, through to carrying out and completing an activity. While they may appear cumbersome at first, they are surprisingly elegant and fit for purpose… once you can twist your brain around them.

Consider ACTION archetypes as a walrus – awkward on land, but graceful in the water – well maybe the analogy is being stretched a little, but you get my drift.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of these little clinical models. ACTIONs are designed to enable sophisticated tracking of activities being carried out in a distributed environment – perfect for managing care pathways between multiple providers in disparate locations – not an easy task.

Take a look at this slide show – my attempt to provide a concrete example of how a Procedure ACTION archetype will support documentation about how an INSTRUCTION or order for a Procedure (any procedure, potentially) is carried out in a shared electronic health record environment.

  • ‘Pathway steps’ are identified as the steps (not necessarily sequential) or clinical activities in which it makes sense to record some information in the health record.
  • The Data Elements that are identified in the ‘Description’ include any and all information that we may wish to record for any of the Pathway steps. For example, the data we need to record when we plan to perform a Procedure or the information required to record that the Procedure was performed or abandoned, including the reason for abandonment.


Updated: August 17, 2011