Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Redesigning Electronic Medical Records

Currently, electronic medical records (EMR) do not provide the medical history of patients in a coherent, comprehensive manner to clinicians. Though an improvement from traditional paper records, EMRs today are for the most part difficult to parse. This article describes the results of a competition aiming at redesigning patient medical records, in which more than 200 design teams participated. The aim of this competition was to identify designs that will
  •  Have a simple visual layout
  •  Make it easier for clinicians to comprehend patient data
  • Make it easier for patients  (and their families) to manage their health

Several interesting design ideas were proposed and can be viewed here.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Scroll or not Scroll is the Question

According to this article in Human Factors, scrolling negatively affects the comprehension of complex text in online environments. The negative impact of scrolling is more profound in people with low working memory capacity, caused due to difficulty in integrating information regularly or due to disorientation during reading.

To promote better comprehension and learning in online environments, it is beneficial to organize information in a paginated form with meaningful subheadings.

Photo Credit: Erik Baas, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Robots for Safe Sports

In a recent article in the Jet Airways in-flight magazine, I read how the Qatar Camel Racing Federation is using robots as camel jockeys for camel races. The robot mounted on a camel, is equipped with cameras, and is controlled by a human who follows in a truck. The robot responds to the commands transmitted via radio control by the human controller. You can watch a video of this here.

In the past, child jockeys participated in these camel races and they fell off the camels frequently and were trampled by the camels. This article describes the camel racing injuries among children. It is therefore nice to see how robotic technology is used in this traditional sport to promote safety. 

Interestingly, the earlier robot designs frightened the camels and more human-like features were added to the robot to make it less intimidating or confusing to the camel.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann from London, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Motivational Psychology in Reducing Accidents

In today’s ‘The Times of India’, I read an article on how the accident rate involving buses has diminished in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This reduction in bus accidents is attributed to a recent initiative by the local government, which involves placing the driver’s family photograph on the dashboard. The idea is that, with the family photograph, drivers are primed about their families and motivated to return home safely to their loved ones, which presumably increases their vigilance on the road.  

Though this is not a controlled study and there is no means to conclude with confidence that the reduction in the number of accidents is due to the psychological impact on the driver, the literature does suggest that motivation has the potential to initiate and maintain goal-directed behavior and therefore improve driver performance.