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Proteus* is a software technology that allows creating clinical executable decision support guidelines with little effort.

Indeed, it should be fun creating your own guidelines.

Once a guideline for a condition has been created, it can be executed to provide stepwise advice for any patient having that condition.

This site is dedicated to the Proteus executable guidelines model, tools based on the Proteus approach and the automated guidelines created using those tools.

A software tool that allows creating and executing clinical decision support guidelines using the Proteus approach is available. The tool called Protean may be downloaded from here. Protean allows creating new guidelines or editing existing ones very easily. Much of the editing is done by dragging and dropping.

Why Proteus is Special - A Quick Overview

The Proteus guidelines are created with modular entities called Knowledge Components (KCs). Each KC represents a clinical activity and is available to the clinician as a module of executable knowledge with its own intelligence.

  • The KCs may be easily modified. Simple drag and drop operations constitute significant part of editing.
  • The KCs may be reused. For example, a KC created for diagnosis of diabetes can be used in guidelines as disparate as “investigation of coma”, “routine preoperative checkup for major elective surgery”, “investigation of unexplained weight loss” and “evaluation for risk of infection”. One can simply drop a KC in a guideline and begin using it. The KCs are also shareable, therefore anyone who authors guidelines can have a library of pre-built KCs at their disposal to drag and drop in their guideline.
  • Experts at remote locations may manage individual KCs, keeping them in sync with the current medical concepts, while the clinicians automatically get the state-of-the-art executable knowledge. This is akin to opening a web page using a hyperlink; the user gets the fresh content by clicking on the same URL when the author of the web page updates it. Unlike a web page however, the Proteus KCs are executable knowledge and not passive information. Each guideline may have many KCs, each being updated by a different expert or a group of experts.
  • The intelligent decision-making in the KC comes from the Inference Tools in the Proteus approach. Any thing that can make the inferences that a KC needs can be declared its inference tool. Simple software algorithms, sophisticated artificial intelligence tools or even remote human experts can be specified as inference tools for KCs. The inference tool can be as easily swapped as they can be declared. Therefore, if a tool with better inferencing capabilities becomes available, it can be used to replace the previous one in a few simple steps.
  • The KCs offer a template for capturing data pertaining to the clinical activity that they represent and serve as components of an Electronic Medical Record.
  • Since the KCs represent discretely identifiable clinical activities they also allow attaching related elements from the non-clinical processes of healthcare. Each such non-clinical process can be assigned a separate layer, with components within it communicating with a logically related KC in the clinical process. For example, execution of a KC representing Colonoscopy in the clinical process may be linked with an event that increments the list of billable items for the patient. The latter event exists in a parallel process layer called “billing” which gets its hints from the core clinical process as it progresses. This allows conceiving of an integrated healthcare information system with logically related parts and unlimited extensibility.

Proteus is an ambitious approach with a potential to touch many aspects of healthcare. Several prototype software tools developed have validated the core features of the Proteus approach. The experience of development carried out to date suggests that a more exhaustive implementation be created and tested with healthcare professionals.

Run the animated flash tutorial to get a quick feel for the Proteus environment.

More information

Read more about Proteus. A brief introduction of Proteus in simple English.

Download and Learn

Download Protean (the prototype tool for authoring and executing Proteus Guidelines). You can download and explore Protean. The simple tutorial can help you get started.

Tutorials to get you familiar with the software tools and the essential concepts of Proteus


Introduction to Proteus - Executable Guidelines with Knowledge Components

Conceptual Underpinnings of Proteus

Flash Video of Protean and GreEd in use (Quality Expo 2009), Teresa Hantz and Patti Williams


Shah H., Proteus: A Model for Clinical Protocols created from Knowledge Components,  Proc. 14th IEEE Symposium on Computer-Based Medical Systems. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society. July 2001, 59-64.(Abstract) (HTML) (PDF)

* in Greek mythology, Proteus is the sea god who possessed the knowledge about everything and had the ability to change shape at will.
Proteus is also an Acronym - PROcesses and Transactions Editable by USers