May 242012

Checklist have great potential for saving lives and making the work of doctors easier. Read about Surgeon Atul Gawande’s work to understand how powerful simple checklist can be

HANDI Supporter Dr Wai Keong Wong and others and will be working on some tools to support checklist up the upcoming NHS Hackday this weekend and writes to tell others about his work

I'd like to draw your attention to an open-source project called ChecklistHQ ( It aims to become a platform for the creation, collaborative development, distribution and utilisation of checklists within healthcare.

It's currently in the planning stages with some initial experimental work already done. Over the course of this weekend a team of doctors and software engineers will be developing the application at the very first NHSHackday here in London this weekend  (26/27 May)

If you have time, we'd love feedback, comments, suggestions and critique over the weekend as we update the website and build features. For the time being you can see the WHO Surgical Checklist using an experimental version of this  platform at the website.

We envision building an application that lets doctors:

  • Create a checklist (with the minimum amount of technical overhead:
  • simply type in a checklist) that can be immediately utilised.
  • Edit your own checklists and have all changes tracked.
  • Collaborate on the development of checklists and be able to share
    expertise, contribute changes and add comments - again, with all
    changes tracked.
  • Easily find checklists for different situations by relevant keywords
  • Immediately use checklists on multiple devices: smartphones,
    browsers, tablets (iPad) or even paper (printer required).

You can find the code hosted here:

A wiki for use over the weekend can be found here:

Bugs, features and tasks for the weekend will be appearing here:

We'll be using the #checklisthq and #nhshackday tags on Twitter and tweeting as the @checklisthq user.

  6 Responses to “Checklist for Health – ChecklistHQ”

  1. Great idea. I am speaking to colleagues to see how we might get this into an openEHR space.

    The prime requirement here is to act as clinical process support and interoperability is not a priority, but a note of caution if you do want to pre-populate or re-use the checklist info in different contexts… checklists are notriously difficult to represent cleanly/consistently in any of the current interop formalisms because they tend to munge different clinical concepts – a good example is “PULSE OXIMETER ON PATIENT AND FUNCTIONING” which mixes up a couple of semantic ideas.

    In an electronic context you also have to think about the if, whys and buts that people scribble onto paper forms. What happens if the answer to “Has allergy” is Yes?

    I am sorry to be missing the Hackday but I have an important prior engagement with a Castle class steam locomotive and the Forth Bridge :-)

  2. Further to above – I see that I misunderstood the form syntax and that Allergies does have an associated Text box. So my question is, in an electronic version do we want this to be pre-populated with known allergies, or at least present this information to the clinician? And what if the patient does have an allergy – do we want this to trigger a system’s native ‘Record allergy functionality’ and record the data semantically ‘correctly’ , or is a checklist a stand-alone entity?

  3. Thanks for your comments Ian. In my view, checklists are used to ensure that people and teams remember to do something. For example, it is reminder to check for allergies rather than to record down allergies. I appreciate that in the Alpha version of checklistHQ, there is a textbox but this is something that I might suggest to Nicholas (dev) to remove as a checklist is not really a ‘form’ in the traditional sense.

    Getting it into openEHR would be amazing. Let us know how we can help.

    Sorry you can’t be at the Hackday. Do follow us on twitter?

    • Wai, I agree with your view of the primary purpose of a checklist but it would be interesting to see how many paper examples of the pre-op checklist have scribbled comments / score-outs etc. I have not followed the checklist manifesto in detail. Is it the case that it should be completed as a clean-room exercise without access to known data? It would be interesting also to see how/if checklists have been integrated into EHRs, other than as a ‘dumb document’.

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