The evolution of eProtocols that enable reproducible clinical research and care methods

Denitza P. Blagev, Eliotte L. Hirshberg, Katherine Sward, B. Taylor Thompson, Roy Brower, Jonathon Truwit, Duncan Hite, Jay Steingrub, James F. Orme, Terry P. Clemmer, Lindell K. Weaver, Frank Thomas, Colin K. Grissom, Dean Sorenson, Dean F. Sittig, C. Jane Wallace, Thomas D. East, Homer R. Warner, Alan H. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Unnecessary variation in clinical care and clinical research reduces our ability to determine what healthcare interventions are effective. Reducing this unnecessary variation could lead to further healthcare quality improvement and more effective clinical research. We have developed and used electronic decision support tools (eProtocols) to reduce unnecessary variation. Our eProtocols have progressed from a locally developed mainframe computer application in one clinical site (LDS Hospital) to web-based applications available in multiple languages and used internationally. We use eProtocol-insulin as an example to illustrate this evolution. We initially developed eProtocol-insulin as a local quality improvement effort to manage stress hyperglycemia in the adult intensive care unit (ICU). We extended eProtocol-insulin use to translate our quality improvement results into usual clinical care at Intermountain Healthcare ICUs. We exported eProtocol-insulin to support research in other US and international institutions, and extended our work to the pediatric ICU. We iteratively refined eProtocol-insulin throughout these transitions, and incorporated new knowledge about managing stress hyperglycemia in the ICU. Based on our experience in the development and clinical use of eProtocols, we outline remaining challenges to eProtocol development, widespread distribution and use, and suggest a process for eProtocol development. Technical and regulatory issues, as well as standardization of protocol development, validation and maintenance, need to be addressed. Resolution of these issues should facilitate general use of eProtocols to improve patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical decision support
  • Decision support
  • Electronic decision support tools
  • Insulin
  • Integration of clinical decision support programs with electronic medical record
  • Intensive care unit glucose control
  • Quality improvement
  • Translation of clinical research into clinical practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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