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Many years ago, I worked with a health care delivery system that was a joy to use. It required no computer "literacy" and was fast and efficient. This system was developed by the PROMIS Laboratory (see A History of the PROMIS Technology: An Effective Human Interface
), commercialized as a product called ProTouch, and then purchased for internal use by Kindred Healthcare. I fully expected that the virtues of this system would eventually migrate into mainstream applications: alas, this has not happened. In an effort to promote this technology, I have created an imagined but unimplemented system I call MentorWizard. I have written a general description in the document MentorWizard Overview. This overview document touts the virtues of MentorWizard but does not discuss the technology needed to make it work.

Not that MentorWizard requires anything exotic or state-of-the-art: on the contrary, MentorWizard uses commonly available computing tools. MentorWizard is unique, however, in the way it utilizes ordinary computer resources. I have added this technical description of MentorWizard to present MentorWizard's unique application of computer technology. This document describes a technical architecture that supports MentorWizard as described in the overview document. These documents describe the essential MentorWizard elements so that others can implement a MentorWizard system of their own. A proof-of-concept version of MentorWizard is planned as well. This demonstration system will allow you to see MentorWizard in action, and thus experience what I can only partially communicate here with words and diagrams.

Performance Support

Do not mistake MentorWizard as a general solution to all computational problems. MentorWizard is an application delivery system designed for the construction of applications that assist workers in the performance of complex tasks. Such tasks make up the basic business processes of an organization. They often require a user to conform to a complex array of business rules. Applications that address these tasks are known as performance support applications. Those unfamiliar with performance support systems may find the book Electronic Performance Support Systems by Gloria Gery helpful. Another useful resource is located on the Internet at EPSS Central.

Performance support applications usually traverse steps with multiple options that often are performed repeatedly. As applications, they are quite different from creative tools, such word processing or spreadsheet applications. Creative programs give the user a blank page or sometimes an outline or template, and then ask the user to create something useful. The application itself has no way of knowing if the result actually meets the user's needs. However, a performance support application guides the user through a maze of business rules that guarantee a correct result. Unlike a creative program, a performance support application knows a proper end result from an incorrect one. Its purpose is to help the user do the right thing every time, according to predefined rules.