I am designing a clinical application which displays a list of potential actions for clinicians to take ranked by their appropriateness to the clinical scenario (i.e., it looks like Google). Occasionally, there will also be a context-dependent "recommendation" which would normally supersede the list of potential actions. When this recommendation is present, we expect that clinicians will usually follow it, when it is not, we expect that they will select one of the actions in the list.
I am concerned about the cases where a user sees and follows the "recommendation" in one session, then later begins a new session where the recommendation is not displayed (because no recommendation exists given the scenario). My sense is that this will confuse the user who previously relied on the recommendation to make a decision.
One possibility might be to display a generic "pick one of the following actions" recommendation when there is no specific recommendation available, but then my concern would be "alert fatigue"--that the clinician would not notice when the generic recommendation was replaced by a specific recommendation.
Are there any relevant patterns I might take a look at or literature on the subject? I think this problem maps somewhat closely to "weather alerts", except that the user is always expected to take some action based on the results provided.
Also, what do I call this? I've been using the term "occasional UI" but that's clearly not the term of art.
Edit: To clarify a few things, the UI pattern we're using is what Mervin describes as an overlay. Here's a rough sketch of how it looks:
I apologize that I can't be more specific. The user arrives at this page by entering some clinical information and clicking get recommendations, thus the recommendations only appear due to some user action. For various clinical reasons, the list of options must always be displayed. My question is what to do about the box that says "Hey, do this instead" (i.e., the recommendation overlay), with the options being (a) a generic pick one of the following list or (b) nothing. I think each of these has pros and cons, I'm just wondering if there are best practices (outlined above) or research into this area I might look at.