Glossary

Accessibility

Ensures that the EDSS is usable by a range of users of differing abilities (e.g. with differing visual acuity, including normal age related changes)

Algorithm

A set of rules or steps by which a computer system achieves a results e.g. solves a problem

Architecture

The structure of a computer's hardware or software.

Budget

A summary of expected income and expenditure, showing the sources of income and categories of expenditure.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

A feature of HTML that allows designers and users to define how different page elements, such as headers and links, will be displayed. These style sheets can then be applied to any Web page. They are similar to Microsoft Word style sheets.

Clinical Impact

The direct and indirect effects of an intervention on clinical decisions and patient health outcomes.

Code

Colloquial term for written computer instructions

Comparison groups

A group of individuals with similar characteristics to participants in the study group, who have not been exposed to the EDSS intervention, which is compared to the study group in order to determine whether changes in the study group are a result of the EDSS intervention (also referred to as a control group).

Computer log analysis

The analysis of actions of a computer and/or user contained in computer log files, which is aimed at increasing the understanding of how a computer system is used and functions (Types of computer log analysis include: System error log and User access log).

Confounders

A factor with the potential to distort or mask the true effect of the intervention.

Context

Any information that can be used to characterise entities (i.e. whether a person, place, object or environmental attribute) that are considered relevant to the interaction between a user and an EDSS, including the user and the EDSS themselves

Cross platform

A system which is compatible with computers using a number of operating systems or platforms

Data Structure

In programming, the term data structure refers to a scheme for organizing related pieces of information

Domain

A group of computers and devices on a network that are administered as a unit with common rules and procedures. Within the Internet, domains are defined by the IP address. All devices sharing a common part of the IP address are said to be in the same domain.

Effectiveness

The degree to which an EDSS achieves its specified goals and objectives.

Efficiency

Getting the best possible level of effectiveness for the resources used

Electronic Decision Support System (EDSS)

A system, which allows users access to knowledge, stored electronically to aid patients, carers, and service providers in making decisions on health care.

Evaluation

A process conducted to assess the value of a service, program or other intervention.

Evaluation guideline

A strategy or set of suggestions to guide the conduct of an evaluation, or aspects of an evaluation.

Evaluation plan

A plan which details how an evaluation is to be conducted

Evaluation Protocol

The part of the evaluation plan, which describes the design of the evaluation, the data collection and analysis methods to be used, and the reporting process.

Evaluation questions

A set of questions, which encapsulate the key objectives of the evaluation, and will be answered during the evaluation.

Focus groups

A data collection method in which a moderator facilitates groups of individuals to discuss topics and answer questions of relevance to the evaluation.

Formative evaluation

Evaluation conducted in the design phase of a project with the aim of improving the design prior to implementation.

Functional requirements

The functions a system must be able to perform in order to fulfill its intended user and technical requirements.

Hardware

The actual equipment, computers, printers, disc drives and such like on which the EDSS runs.

Ethics Committee

A committee, which ensures research involving humans, meets legislated ethical requirements and the requirements of the organisation through which the research is being conducted, and provides approval for the research to proceed, on behalf of the organisation it represents.

Indicator

A measure that reflects changes that are directly and/or indirectly relevant to objectives of the evaluation

Inference engine

A computer program which can draw conclusions about specific topics, by following a set inference rules.

Internal data structures

Data Structures that are hidden from the user inside the software.

Interoperability

The ability of computer hardware and software to exchange information with other components of hardware and software, usually as part of a network.

Interview

A data collection method, where individual study participant respond to a series of questions in person or via telephone.

ISO standard

A set of internationally agreed principles to guide activities including development in a umber of domains, including technology

Knowledge base

A structured repository for knowledge, consisting of a collection of knowledge elements such as rules and their associated data model, or ontology. A knowledge base is a core component of an EDSS.

Knowledge representation

The transformation of evidence-based recommendations into computer-readable representations, using formal languages devised for this purpose

Knowledge source

The research evidence and clinical knowledge that has been distilled into a set of summary conclusions about treatments, diagnostic tests, etc. and used to create the knowledge base in an EDSS.

Levels of Evidence

Describes a way of rating the methodological quality of studies. Most evidence rating systems are based on the design of the study and the quality of the conduct of the study. Usually Level I Evidence is assigned to studies which have the most rigorous design and execution. Studies which are less rigorous in design and execution are assigned to lower levels of evidence.

Module

A self-contained component of a computer system, which interacts with other self-contained components.

Multi method design

An evaluation design which employs a variety of methods to obtain data

Nomenclatures

A system or procedure for assigning names to groups.

Non-functional requirements

A requirement of the software system that does not affect its functionality, such as the look and feel of the system.

Observational method

A research method where the researcher collects data about behaviours in natural settings by watching and listening

Operation environment

The hardware and software setup that is required for a software system to operate.

Project management

The application of appropriate knowledge, tools and skills to guide activities and ensure that the defined requirements of a project are achieved.

Pseudo code

Code written in a non-specific machine instructions. Syntax is not important with Pseudo code. Mainly used to describe algorithms.

Qualitative data

Data that is meaningfully represented in a written, audio or visual form

Qualitative research

Research using words rather than numbers, which is conducted in natural settings through interviews, focus groups, observations, and documents.

Quantitative data

Data which is meaningfully represented by numbers.

Quantitative research

Research uses numbers to measure and count events or facts (variables) and statistical analysis to summarise this information and to assess relationships between these variables.

Questionnaire

A data collection method, using a set questions to which study participants respond.

Random sample

A group of individuals (or other units), who are selected from a larger grouping in such a way that each individual or unit has the same chance of being included in any group.

Randomised controlled trial

An experiment in which individuals are randomly allocated to groups, who are respectively exposed (study group) and not exposed (comparison group) to an intervention. The results for each group are then compared.

Reliability

The degree to which a measure eg questionnaire consistently produces the same results.

Robust

When used to describe software or computer systems, robust can describe one or more of several qualities:

- a system that does not break down easily
- a system that either recovers quickly from or holds up well under exceptional circumstances
- a system that is not wholly affected by a bug in one aspect of it

Routine

A section of a program that performs a particular task. Programs consist of modules, each of which contains one or more routines. The term routine is synonymous with procedure, function, and subroutine.

Scope

The extent (in terms of breadth and depth) of the evaluation.

Software

Also known as “computer programs”, or just “program”.

Software architecture

The high-level part of software design, the frame that holds the more detailed parts of the design. Architecture is also known as “system architecture”, “design”, “high-level design”, and “top-level design”.

Software environment

The systems software, such as Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and the application software, the actual EDSS application, such as Medical Director.

Stakeholders

Those individuals or groups of individuals who have a substantial interest in the outcomes of the evaluation.

Steering group

A group with the responsibility of overseeing project management and ensuring a project meets the agreed needs of all stakeholders.

Study group

A group which is exposed to the intervention being studied, to determine the effect of the intervention. The study group is usually compared to a comparison group.

Summative evaluation

An evaluation conducted in the process of implementing an EDSS, to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of a system.

System

A complete software package.

System designer(s)

Part of the development group. Designs the overall structure of a software system. Analogous to an architect of a building. Sometimes, but not always, the same people/person as the system developers.

System developer(s)

Part of the development group. Implements a software system. Analogous to the builders of a building. Sometimes, but not always, the same people/person as the system designers.

System development process

Also known as Software development process and involves the set of activities and associated results which produce a software product. These activities are mostly carried out by software engineers.

System error log

A file generated by a computer to record any abnormal activity in the system

System use

The actual frequency and breadth of use of the system

Time and motion study

A method by which work practices are observed, with the aim of recording the tasks (motions) individuals perform and the amount of time they dedicate to each task.

Triangulation

The process of integrating qualitative and quantitative data to identify areas of overlapping and divergent evidence.

Usability

The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction, and enjoyment in a specified context of use.

User acceptance

The degree to which the specified users of the system find it acceptable to perform its specified tasks. It can be measured by assessing user satisfaction with the system and system use.

User access log

A computer log which records all requests performed by a user log into a computer system.

User Interface (UI)

The aspects of a computer system or program that can be perceived by the human user, and the commands and mechanisms used to control its operation and input data

Users

The population of individuals who use a system. Also referred to as end-users.

User satisfaction

The user’s overall evaluation of their experience of the system and its potential impact.

Validity

The degree to which an instrument (e.g. questionnaire) measures what it is supposed to measure.

Video ethnography

A method which uses video recordings to study people in their natural settings and to describe and understand how people communicate and interact, not just at the level of talk, but also at the level of posture, gesture and facial expression.

Vocabularies

The symbols or techniques, which serve as a means of expression in a computer system.

Work practices

The combination of all the components of normal work performance, including work activities performed by the staff; enactment of policies and protocols; and formal or informal communication systems and patterns.

Work sampling

A method by which the tasks being performed by individuals are recorded at intervals (indicated by a buzzer or similar device) with the aim of capturing information about the nature of activities in which workers routinely engage.