Using Semantic Components to Represent Dynamics of an Interdisciplinary Healthcare Team in a Multi-Agent Decision Support System
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In healthcare organizations, clinical workflows are executed by interdisciplinary healthcare teams (IHTs) that operate in ways that are difficult to manage. Responding to a need to support such teams, we designed and developed the MET4 multi-agent system that allows IHTs to manage patients according to presentation-specific clinical workflows. In this paper, we describe a significant extension of the MET4 system that allows for supporting rich team dynamics (understood as team formation, management and task-practitioner allocation), including selection and maintenance of the most responsible physician and more complex rules of selecting practitioners for the workflow tasks. In order to develop this extension, we introduced three semantic components: (1) a revised ontology describing concepts and relations pertinent to IHTs, workflows, and managed patients, (2) a set of behavioral rules describing the team dynamics, and (3) an instance base that stores facts corresponding to instances of concepts from the ontology and to relations between these instances. The semantic components are represented in first-order logic and they can be automatically processed using theorem proving and model finding techniques. We employ these techniques to find models that correspond to specific decisions controlling the dynamics of IHT. In the paper, we present the design of extended MET4 with a special focus on the new semantic components. We then describe its proof-of-concept implementation using the WADE multi-agent platform and the Z3 solver (theorem prover/model finder). We illustrate the main ideas discussed in the paper with a clinical scenario of an IHT managing a patient with chronic kidney disease.
KeywordsInterdisciplinary healthcare team Clinical workflow Multi-agent system First-order logic Ontology
This research was supported by grants from the NSERC CREATE Program in Healthcare Operations and Information Management and the Telfer School of Management Research Fund. We would like to acknowledge contribution of Mr. Runzhuo Li in implementing an earlier version of the MET4 system. We would like to thank the reviewers for their comments and suggestions.
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