User Centered Design for Public Health and Consumer Health Informatics

Rupa Valdeza, Barbara L. Massoudib

aDivision of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

bPublic Health Informatics Program, Center for the Advancement of Health IT, RTI International, Atlanta, GA, USA

 

Abstract

This tutorial will introduce the approach of user centered design (UCD), which puts the user rather than the technologist at the center of the design effort. The fundamental tenet of UCD is that designers should proactively obtain an in-depth and actionable understanding of the intended users’ needs at all stages of an iterative design process. Information systems that are grounded in users’ needs are easier to learn and use, decreasing training time and unintended consequences, and increasing user productivity, satisfaction, acceptance. Unfortunately, the development of public health and consumer health information systems (PH/CHIS) has predominantly been grounded in traditional systems development. Frequently, the public health professional and consumer do not encounter the system until after development is complete, often resulting in misalignment with users’ needs. Using didactic and hands-on small group case studies, we will introduce the concept of UCD; present the benefits and implications of UCD in PH/CHIS development efforts; and, introduce specific UCD methods/techniques.

The aim of this tutorial is to explicate user centered design (UCD), a systems development approach that puts the user, rather than the technologist at the center of the design effort. Traditional systems development is often technologist driven, prioritizing the expertise and assumptions of the designer. Consequently, it often fails to adequately consider users’ needs and preferences. User acceptance of these systems is often challenging and redesign and development efforts can be prohibitively costly and time consuming.

This tutorial will include a case study that illustrates how these tools are integrated and used in practice. The case study will be drawn from personal health record tool project aimed at increasing physical activity among sedentary adults. This was part of Project HealthDesign: Rethinking the Power and Potential of Personal Health Records (http://www.projecthealthdesign.org) and (http://www.projecthealthdesign.org/projects/round-1-projects/phr-system-for-at-risk-sedentary-adults). Participants will then have an opportunity to create and receive feedback on UCD work plan salient to their own technology development effort.


Learning objectives

At the conclusion of the tutorial, attendees should be able to do the following:

  1. Explicate the rationale for user centered design and the relevance of this approach to their own work
  2. Enumerate five user centered design methods and identify situations in which they are most applicable
  3. Synthesize tutorial content to recommend a user centered design approach for a public health or consumer health informatics project
  4. Evaluate other tutorial attendees’ user centered design work plans and offer constructive criticism

 

Targeted audience

Public health professionals, designers, or researchers involved in sponsorship, development, or selection of information systems; consumer health professionals, designers, or researchers involved in sponsorship, development, or selection of information systems; information systems project managers; systems and business analysts. Although the information and examples are drawn from the public health and consumer health informatics domains, the methods and approaches are widely applicable and therefore likely to be of interest to the broader health informatics community.

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