Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

An Evaluation Framework for Business Process Modeling Languages in Healthcare

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

An Evaluation Framework for Business Process Modeling Languages in Healthcare

Article excerpt


Web services composition is an emerging paradigm for enabling inter and intra organizational integration, and a landscape of languages and techniques for modeling business processes in web service based environments has emerged and is continuously being enriched. With the advent of modeling standards, different business sectors are investigating the options for modeling their workflows. In terms of business process modeling, healthcare is a rather complex sector of activity. Indeed, modeling healthcare processes presents special requirements dictated by the complicated and dynamic nature of these processes as well as by the specificity and diversity of the actors involved in these processes. Little effort has been dedicated to evaluating the capabilities and limitations of modeling languages based on healthcare requirements. This paper presents a set of healthcare modeling requirements and proposes an evaluation framework for process modeling languages based on these requirements. The suitability of two major process based service composition languages, namely BPEL and WS-CDL, is evaluated.

Key words: Business Process Modeling, Modeling Language, Web Service Composition, Healthcare, BPEL, WS-CDL

1 Introduction

Web services foster the integration of disparate systems and applications despite being developed at different times by different people. Efforts on standardization of web service composition and modeling have resulted in the release of two major process based service composition streams, orchestration and choreography, as well as different standards and languages, namely Process Definition Language (PDL), XML Process Definition Language (XPDL), Business Process Schema Specification (BPSS), Business Process Modeling Language (BPML), Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI), Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language (ebXML), Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), Web Services Choreography Description Language (WS-CDL), and Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (WS-BPEL).

The increase in the number of modeling standards and the diversity of business sectors where process modeling can be applied has rendered modeling very complex. Hence, the question of identifying suitable modeling standards for specific business sectors has arisen. Many frameworks [11], [12], [20], [36], [38] have been proposed for evaluating the suitability of a process modeling language for a given sector. However, most of the frameworks only focus on one or two aspects of languages, and evaluation results usually present overlaps, limitations, inconsistencies, and ambiguities. These limitations are particularly observable when modeling complex systems such as healthcare. The complexity of healthcare business processes results from the integration of workflows, and collaboration and data transactions between different units. Meanwhile, the existence of different medical data transaction and process execution standards (e.g., Health Level Seven (HL7) and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM)) further adds to the complexity. Moreover, an increase in the number of medical disciplines and the dynamic nature of healthcare delivery call for dynamic process models [2].

A process model is not just a graphical representation, but rather it should also serve as a communication base both for communicating domain details between stakeholders, and for communicating domain details to system designers [11]. Moreover, according to [18] models should be representative, easily understood, easy to use, optimized in the level of details, and support abstraction. The ability to use a process model for communication decreases if modeling specialists are the only people who understand the models. Therefore models should be representative enough to be understood by all model users such as healthcare administrative or clinical stakeholders. A further issue is integration. …

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