vizHOME: A context-based health information needs assessment strategy
Patricia Flatley Brennan, Kevin Ponto, Gail Casper, Pascale Carayon, Peter Hoonakker, Ross Tredinnick
Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
University of Wisconsin-Madison
September, 2014

Health care today relies greatly on helping people help themselves. From monitoring diets to managing medication, the typical person faces many personal health information management challenges. Computer tools can assist with this information management, but these technical solutions are often created with little attention to where they will be used. For example, the visibility of a calendar for reminding one of a weekly blood test or the proximity of a wireless glucometer to the computer that stores its readings can facilitate or interfere with health management. Designers must understand where personal health information management occurs to make optimally effective solutions. Yet bringing designers and engineers into the private, personal spaces of home contexts and allowing their repeated, systematic study is not only burdensome to the home dweller, but also infeasible due to the ever-changing nature of homes. The vizHOME team wants to accelerate the design of personal care technologies by better understanding how household context shapes personal health information management.

In the first year of the project we are visiting 20 different households, from mobile homes to single family dwellings. We use a LiDAR scanner, a special type of laser, to capture images of the home and later create detailed 3D reconstructions of these households in a virtual reality CAVE. We’ll then bring groups of professionals (nurses, computer scientists, engineers) and patients through these reconstructed houses to help identify what aspects of the houses might help, or interfere with, health information management. Later, we will bring 60 patients into the re-created houses to get their viewpoints about what matters. In the end we will develop a checklist that could be used by designers, home care specialists, and people to plan the best places to store health information, build in reminders for common tasks like taking medications, and better organize health information in homes.

The computer versions of the 3D reconstructed households will be distributed through a secure research website for repeated studies by designers. We will also make available the checklist we will develop available to others. Health care is migrating from the institution to the home, and engagement of everyone in healthy practices is necessary to avoid disease or mitigate its consequences. Systematic understanding of how home design can assist with integration of technologies into the every-day lives of people will ensure that homes not only become spaces for health care but tools that draw people towards improved health.