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Sanitized Prototypes and Cargo Pants: Design and Evaluation of an Assistive Application for Dialysis Patients

Katie Siek
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Medical informatics, broadly defined as the integration of information technology in health care, is revolutionizing all aspects of medicine from electronic medical record systems to portable systems that assist clinicians with medical decision-making and data entry. The human-computer interface issues in medical informatics are particularly interesting because there are often diverse user groups with different requirements for the same application (i.e., clinicians and patients).

In this talk, I present Dietary Intake Monitoring Application (DIMA), a patient-centered application designed to assist dialysis patients in monitoring their dietary needs. Dialysis patients who do not comply with their dietary restrictions run the risk of undergoing additional emergency dialysis, hypertension, pulmonary edema, and death. Currently, patients try to remember their fluid and sodium consumption or record it in a food diary. However, these techniques fail in 80% of dialysis patients. To improve patients’ ability to record their fluid and sodium consumption, DIMA allows patients to record this information using a personal digital assistant.

The varying levels of patient literacy and computing skills present a particular challenge for the design of DIMA. Furthermore, user studies must be conducted in dialysis wards, which are small, stressful, prohibit audio/video recordings, and change rapidly without warning. In this talk I discuss methods we developed to make patients more comfortable using DIMA in their everyday lives, our framework for usability studies in non-traditional environments, and interface design issues for people with varying literacy skills. I conclude the talk by discussing current and future research directions in non-traditional environment evaluation techniques for interdisciplinary projects.

Biography: Katie A. Siek is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Department of Computer Science. Her primary research interests are in human computer interaction, health informatics, and ubiquitous computing. Prior to her appointment at Colorado, she completed her Ph.D. and M.S. at Indiana University – Bloomington in computer science and her undergraduate education in computer science at Eckerd College. Her graduate career was funded by a National Physical Science Consortium fellowship and funding from Sandia National Laboratories/CA. She is a founding member of the Women in Computing groups at Indiana University and the University of Colorado.

Hosted by: Chuck Stewart (x6731)
Administrative support: Jacky Carley (x8291)