eHealth · Summer school

EHealth summer school in Dublin, day 4

The fourth day of the eHealth summer school in Dublin included lectures related to inclusive design, internet interventions, trial protocol design and healthcare implementations. As has been the case the earlier days, I found all lectures interesting and I also enjoyed the interactive parts that were included in them. As before, I will bring up a few key points below. 

This was the first day where we got the chance to work on our projects during one of the lectures. During the lecture on inclusive design, we should try to come up with ways to extend our current ideas so that they could be of use for people with multipel illnesses/disabilities – thus we should design for a so called persona spectrum. This part was very interesting for me since I have designed haptic interfaces for collaboration between sighted and visually impaired pupils in elementary school. With this background I have been forced to think about inclusive design and the importance of designing both haptic and audio feedback in a way that provides both collaborating peers with a truly shared workspace. 

Once again Geraldine Fitzpatrick held a very inspiring lecture. The focus this time was more on eHealth design and the importance of gaining insights from involving different stakeholders in the design process. When the picture for this blog post was taken she brought up the idea of using e.g. health coaches in interaction with patients/users. Many other techniques, like home visits/observations and interviews were also mentioned. It is vital that we as researchers and/or designers get to know how technology is really used and this is insights that e.g. care professionals could never provide (the use context is often the patient’s home). One key point was that it is important to invite users continously during the design process and thereby building a kind of relationship with them. 

Heleen Riper’s lectures on interventions and protocols were also interesting – I had no idea that there are approximately 8000 apps for depression interventions available today! Many different examples of interventions were given, including VR environments for targeting different phobias. The importance of basing interventions on scientific evidence was also brought up and during this part of the lecture Heleen approached members of the audience who had to give their views on methods (e.g. meta studies and trials) for gathering such evidence. This was a very good way of keeping the audience active and focused. The same technique was used during the lecture on trial protocols. The last lecture of the day, on healthcare implementation, also included a lot of interactive parts. In that case the speakers wanted to show that we have limited capabilities and that it’s human to misinterpret things and make errors. Several small experiments on perception and multitasking were performed. 

The main project part (as I said above, there was a short workshop on inclusive design during a lecture) was about trial protocol planning. Thus, we should come up with ways to measure if the intervention we designed have the intended effects. We should both come up with a distal outcome (and means of measurkng it) and proximal outcomes for each intervention component. The end result was a study design capable of evaluating the intervention. 

eHealth · Summer school

EHealth summer school in Dublin, day 3

The third day of the summer school was also very rewarding, with many inspirational lectures and interesting discussion topics. Even though no specific themes were announced in the program, most of today’s content was focused on methods and eHealth research in general. As before, I pick a few of the highlights from the day, which I write about below. 

This day a new interactive method was used – Jan Gulliksen (see picture above) used Mentimeter in his inspirational talk about motives for conducting research and how to look at and measure contributions. According to the results from the Mentimeter activity, about 75% of the participants wanted an academic career and the reason most of us had for conducting research was to contribute new knowledge to the world. In the beginning of the talk, we also got the task of writing down an example of how we want other researchers to cite our work. This really made me reflect on what my main contribution is and how it is framed in e.g. my thesis! 

Another inspirational talk, by Geraldine Fitzpatrick, focused on putting eHealth in a context. The talk focused a lot on the complexity that eHealth researchers and developers need to cope with – many different stakeholders (far more than just doctors, nurses and patients) and disciplines/needs involved. Several stakeholders, like insurance companies, government, etc are also found outside the hospital. Everyone has to be taken into account when designing something that is going to be a part of a very complex eco-system – a system that designers often simplify too much. Plus, new systems in this domain (and other domains also, of course) often bring about changes in work roles and how jobs are performed – changes that often directly effect the contact between patients and care professionals. Several interesting examples of problems that implemented eHealth solutions can cause, due to the context of use not being properly analyzed, were also given. The talk began with an open question about how the participants thought about eHealth in relation to context. Mostly one-word answers were given. When the same question was asked in the end, a lot more reasoning answers were given!

There were only two other lectures this day, about evaluation methods (focus on experimental trials) and medical device safety. I recognized most of the experimental methods presented, so for me the method walkthrough was more of a repetition. More than half of the studies I have conducted during my Ph.D studies and thereafter have been based on experiments. The talk on safety focused e.g. on incidents and causes of errors. Errors often occur when the technology does not fit the work process. Everyone can make errors (care professionals also – it’s human) and we have to take this into account when designing new systems. 

Today’s project work conserned the user-centered planning process. As it turned out the paper Key Principles for User-Centred Systems Design, with among others Jan Gulliksen and Åsa Cajander as authors, was used as material! We should first map out the user-centered project process using the “key principles” as inspiration. Thereafter we chose methods and in the last phase we tried to identify some “tensions” (e.g. potential problems and possibilities of moving across national boundaries or involving indirect stakeholders). 

eHealth · Summer school

EHealth summer school in Dublin, day 2

The second day of the Dublin part of the eHealth summer school has soon come to an end. Even this day was interesting and eventful. Several case studies were presented, focusing on e.g. depression interventions, behavioural change, user-centered design and patients in self-care. Today, there was more focus on what makes an intervention/an eHealth project successful and what hoppens when the project (and the external funding) runs out. 

One particular example brought up was SilverCloud, a kind of online-intervention for e.g. depression and anxiety. A long and complex project resulted in the solution in use today. You really have to consider the diversity of users here – social and cultural backgrounds have to be taken into account. It is also hard to attract funds for such large projects and a hard part is also (not only for this project, of course) that technology is constantly being upgraded. The latter is a real issue when it comes to using an intervention after a project has ended (funding needed for upgrades may not be there). SilverCloud is one example of an intervention which is successful in that it is still in use after the research project has ended (now deployed by a company). Read more about the case by following the link given above. 

Another example of a case study was FeedFinder, an app which is used to find suitable breastfeeding locations. You can see detailed information about this eHealth solution by following the link. One of the interesting lessons learned in this case was that the turnout would probably have been better if the solution had been integrated into public health services. I think this is a problem that many similar solutions are struggling with – you have an app which solves a particular problem in a feasable way, but the solution is stand-alone, separate from e.g. the national healthcare platform. 

As was the case yesterday we also had quite a few group discussions and project work. E.g. we discussed how to design interventions with the purpose of changing behaviour, experiences (from the patient’s perspective) of searching for information about a health condition online and “the new normal” that a change in health status results in. In the latter case I e.g. described that I’m much more careful, and somewhat afraid of being in crowded places, after I was diagnosed with a rheumatical disease and got immune suppressive medication. 

The last session focused on how to build business models and this was also the focus of the project work. We should most and foremost clearly define the problem, the main goals, the customers and the users. The model we were to use was not only applicable when trying to pitch a solution to potential funders/stakeholders, but also very much applicable when writing research grant applications! I will definitely come back to this in later blog posts. 

Last, we also got the possibility to visit Old Library at Trinity College, just before lunch. We saw, among other old books, the Book of Kells. I took the picture above in the magnificent Long Room on the uppger floor!

eHealth · Summer school

EHealth summer school in Dublin, day 1

I really enjoyed the first day of the eHealth summer school here in Dublin! The lectures were very interesting and covered many different topics like patient involvement, ideation and design fiction. Some lectures included case studies based on e.g. patient involvement and both researchers and patient representatives were among the speakers.

Some of the sessions also included practical exercises. The picture above shows part of the result from a short workshop on ideation, where we should try to map out different technical possibilities within eHealth. The method used was really interesting! First every group (about 4-5 participants in each) should write down 4 user groups (pink cards), 4 use contexts (dark blue cards), 4 health conditions (light blue cards) and 4 types of technologies (yellow cards). The cards then had to be arranged as showed in the picture, with one card of each type in each row and column, respectively. This matrix was then used to come up with different eHealth solutions based on the cards in each row and column, respectively. I think this was a very good way of working with ideation, since you were forced to think “outside the box”. For example, it took quite a while for us to come up with an idea for the first column (Nurse, Augmented reality, Life style issues, The patient room). If we hadn’t worked with cards in this way we would probably never have discussed the possibility of the nurse using augmented feedback solutions in the patient room in order to convince the patient about that a certain change in life style is needed!

In another workshop later on the same day, we considered different enablers and barriers regarding eHealth interventions. More, specifically, we locked at capabilities, motivation and opportunities as important factors to consider. Half of the groups looked at barriers and the other half looked at enablers. Even in this case I found the method rewarding. The exercises pinpointed what you need to consider when working with interventions.

The last presentation was about scenarios and how they can be used to inform design. The presentation prepared for the first project task, which was to come up with a few scenarios relevant for the case in the project assignment. I will not discuss the project thoroughly here (or in later blog posts) since the content is confidential – everyone signed a confidentiality form during the registration. I will write about it on a meta level, though. 

After the project work there was a reception at Trinity College and after that I had dinner at a Japanese restaurant with several of my colleagues. A very nice first day!

eHealth · Summer school

I’m soon going to a summer school in Dublin!

Tomorrow, I’m off to Dublin for the first week of the EIT Health/ACM SIGCHI e-Health Summer School 2017! This two weeks summer school (the second week, in August, we are in Stockholm and Uppsala) is based on user-centered design of e-Health and m-Health systems. This will actually be my first ever summer school experience and I’m really excited about it!

There are 36 participants in total – both Ph.D. students and postdocs. Several of my colleagues from Uppsala University (Åsa Cajander, Diane Golay and Ida Löscher) and also my colleague Christiane Grünloh from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) are among the participants! To top it all off Åsa Cajander and Jan Gulliksen (professor in HCI and Dean of the School of Computer Science and Communication at KTH during most of the years I worked there) are among the organizers. 

Most of the participants will stay at Trinity Hall during the summer school week (including Ida, Diane and me). Most of us will arrive tomorrow and leave on Saturday 1/7. The summer school will be held at Foster Place, at walking distance (about 4 km) from Trinity Hall. 

The program for the week in Dublin looks very interesting! Several lecturers are involved and a wide range of topics will be covered. Apart from the lecture series there will also be a project assignment which student groups will work on during the week and which will be presented during the last day. 

The program seems well thought through – it will most definitely be an eventful and interesting week. I will try to write blog posts about my experiences from the summer school regularly during the week. 

Leadership · Pedagogy

Recently cleared a course in group leadership!

As I have written in earlier blog posts, I took three pedagogical courses this spring to get closer to the associate professor goal (15hp). I wrote about the course on oral presentations here and the course on methods for activating students here. I will soon write about the third course on assessment, grading and feedback. Apart from pedagogical courses I also took a group leadership course, which ended Wednesday last week with a full-day session about how to detect and handle conflicts. 

During the scope of the course a small group of researchers/leaders, with varying backgrounds and positions at the University, met about once a month for full-day sessions on different themes related to group leadership. Lunch was included every time. Even though theory was provided through short lectures, the focus was on discussions, role play and other leadership exercises. Since quite a few of the discussions and exercises were based on the course participants’ own experiences, I will not give any concrete examples here. We decided at the first session that we should not talk about the issues discussed during the course with people outside the group. 

The course covered a wide range of topics and the common theme was active listening. The course covered establishment of norms, listening strategies, reflective teams, positive and negative feedback to colleagues and private talks, just to mention a few of the themes. 

One of the most challenging themes was the one about providing negative feedback. It is really hard to give someone negative feedback on their actions, while at the same time framing the feedback so that 1) it will lead to a change in behaviour and 2) it will not have a negative impact on the work relation between me as a leader and the co-worker. Another one of the more challenging topics was private talks initiated either by me as a leader or by a co-worker, with the focus of discussing some problem encountered at the workplace (often focused on someone’s behaviour). The most challenging part in this case is that the problem that gave rise to the meeting is often not the big issue. In these talks it is up to me as a leader to ask open questions and search for “free information” in order to get the whole picture and find possible underlying problems that are much more important to deal with. If you are not good at active listening techniques during these meetings you may end up focusing on a minor problem instead of a major one. 

I really enjoyed each and every session of the course and I can really recommend this or a similar leadership course to persons in any kind of leadership position! I really think that I will be able to approach my colleagues in the groups I’m leading in a better way now and I hope I will also be better at spotting potential problems early on and taking measures to handle them. 

DISA · DOME · eHealth · Interact · Medical Records Online

Another visit from Germany and a lot of good progress!


Christiane Grünloh, who came from Germany to visit as a few weeks ago (see this blog post), came back to us this week. The main reason for her visit was once again to work with us in the large eHealth studies which I’m currently leading. As always, it was nice to have her with us and we got a lot of things done during these few days. First of all, we got several interviews done for this study. I will not discuss results here, since it is too early in the process and nothing has been analyzed, but after these days I’m sure that the study will give a lot of new insight. I also learned that Christiane is a very talented interviewer! It was obvious that she is a good active listener and that she can create a nice atmosphere during the interviews.

While Christiane was here, we also discussed about possibilities for writing CHI-papers and I think we came up with some really good ideas. I will try two write one related to mediated communication and haptic feedback and one, together with other researchers in DOME, related to eHealth. We also discussed ideas for submissions to other conferences. I will of course write more about this in future blog posts.

We also had progress when it came to accepted papers. A while ago I wrote a blog post about some papers being submitted to Interact. Yesterday we learned that one of them, a method paper about a workshop the DOME consortium hosted last autumn, had been conditionally accepted! I will write more about it when we have a final answer after resubmit. This also means that Christiane will get funding for visiting the conference in Mumbai, which in turn means that we (Åsa Cajander, Christiane and I) can submit a prepared workshop paper to the same conference (I will write another post about that if the WS contribution gets accepted)! The other paper we sent to Interact, about nurses’ views on patient accessible electronic health records, did not get accepted this time. But, we do have a plan for the future of that paper.

So, we had a lot of good progress this week and I hope we will have more of these weeks ahead of us!