The Protocure II project is funded by the Future and Emerging Technologies arm of the IST program, FET-Open scheme, under contract number IST-FP6-508794. Protocure II is a RTD project running from January 2004 until June 2006.
Medical guidelines and protocols describe the optimal care for a specific group of patients and therefore, when properly applied, improve the quality of patient care. It has been proved that adherence to guidelines and protocols may reduce health-care costs up to a 25%. During the last decade, a high number of medical guidelines and protocols have been published in the literature and Internet. However, the work done on developing and disseminating them far outweighs the efforts on guaranteeing their quality. Indeed, anomalies like ambiguity and incompleteness are frequent in medical guidelines and protocols. Recent efforts have tried to address the problem of quality improvement. These approaches are not sufficient since they rely on informal processes and notations. As a result, many guidelines and protocols in practical use are still ambiguous or incomplete. A different approach, grounded on a formal representation, can answer these needs, as we have demonstrated in the one-year assessment phase of Protocure I project. The approach of Protocure I can be summarised in the metaphor "protocol ~ program", in the sense that protocols are viewed as programs, and that formal methods are used to improve their quality. The Protocure II project will extend this metaphor to guideline and "protocol development ~ software engineering". Thus, Protocure II will aim at integrating formal methods in the life cycle of guidelines. Instead of aiming at developing methods to analyse existing guidelines and protocols, we will now concentrate on developing techniques & tools to support the whole guideline development process.