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Designing interactive systems in healthcare: a report on WISH 2011
Reddy M., Mamykina L., Parker A. interactions19 (1):24-27,2012.Type:Article
Date Reviewed: Dec 31 2012

Due to “a mismatch between the reality of conducting clinical work and the structure of computing applications that are meant to support it,” health information technology (HIT) has experienced low levels of adoption. During the 2011 Workshop on Interactive Systems in Healthcare (WISH), cosponsored by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), interactive systems were introduced to better align HIT and different domain experts toward a multidisciplinary entity. Thus, WISH gathers different communities to develop “new methods, approaches, and techniques for removing barriers to the adoption of HIT.” WISH 2011 aimed to:

  • “develop research agendas for interactive systems in healthcare and identify strategies and mechanisms for studying them;
  • discuss and develop consensus around existing technical and methodological challenges in the design and evaluation of interactive systems in healthcare;
  • establish a new channel for the dissemination and implementation of research on interactive systems in healthcare;
  • provide a forum for developing new partnerships between researchers and stakeholder organizations [...]; and
  • establish a mentorship program for junior researchers and provide them with the opportunity to meet leading researchers in fields related to interactive systems in healthcare.”

In this report on the workshop, the authors start with the challenges to HIT and WISH 2011’s goals (listed above), which were developed to meet those challenges. In the body of the article, they elaborate on four themes consistently presented in WISH 2011’s technical programs: “how to foster innovation in HIT; the benefits and challenges of theory-driven HIT design; the adoption and meaningful use of HIT; and conducting interdisciplinary research in HIT.” The conclusion lists a number of facts about the workshop and some comments from the attendees.

As a report of an event, the article keeps faithfully to the facts and maintains a neutral tone of voice. Readers will be able to easily find the direct outcomes from the workshop due to its structure. Nevertheless, there is limited further information and the authors’ own ideas are relatively weak.

First of all, sufficient data is not given to indicate whether the goals of the workshop were met. The discussion of the four themes includes some questions and answers that contribute to the goals, but I would have liked to see feedback from the attendees and presenters, or information about possibly implementing the related ideas. For example, how did the audience receive the “disruptive innovations”? Who is implementing the tools, and with what outcomes so far?

Second, the content is loosely coupled. There are very useful conclusions in each individual section--for example, “although there are clear benefits to defining meaningful-use criteria, they should be approached with caution and may have a number of unintended consequences.” However, I also want to know their impact on the future of interactive systems in healthcare, including whether it is better to work further on defining meaningful-use criteria or to leave the gray area to related disciplines. In fact, the article does not include many useful conclusions on inter-discipline research, the main challenge in HIT development. Agendas and new channels for interactive systems in healthcare (the first and third goals listed above) are also vague. The authors could have offered some strong comments on these topics in the final section or together with related conclusions.

The article is a good information source for researchers studying interactive systems in healthcare/HIT. However, it lacks sufficient detail and strong guidelines for serious readers.

Reviewer:  Chang Liu Review #: CR140787 (1304-0330)
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General (H.5.0 )
Medical Information Systems (J.3 ... )
Applications And Expert Systems (I.2.1 )
User/ Machine Systems (H.1.2 )
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