The guideline interchange format: A model for representing guidelines

Lucila Ohno-Machado, John H. Gennari, Shawn N. Murphy, Nilesh L. Jain, Samson W. Tu, Diane E. Oliver, Edward Pattison-Gordon, Robert A. Greenes, Edward H. Shortliffe, G. Octo Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


Objective: To allow exchange of clinical practice guidelines among institutions and computer-based applications. Design: The GuideLine Interchange Format (GLIF) specification consists of the GLIF model and the GLIF syntax. The GLIF model is an object-oriented representation that consists of a set of classes for guideline entities, attributes for those classes, and data types for the attribute values. The GLIF syntax specifies the format of the test file that contains the encoding. Methods: Researchers from the InterMed Collaboratory at Columbia University, Harvard University (Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital), and Stanford University analyzed four existing guideline systems to derive a set of requirements for guideline representation. The GLIF specification is a consensus representation developed through a brainstorming process. Four clinical guidelines were encoded in GLIF to assess its expressivity and to study the variability that occurs when two people from different sites encode the same guideline. Results: The encoders reported that GLIF was adequately expressive. A comparison of the encodings revealed substantial variability. Conclusion: GLIF was sufficient to model the guidelines for the four conditions that were examined. GLIF needs improvement in standard representation of medical concepts, criterion logic, temporal information, and uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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