SICE researchers to present at NordiCHI 2018

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A team of researchers from the Proactive Health Lab at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering will present a paper on design guidelines for people living with diabetes and discordant chronic comorbidities (DCC) at NordiCHI 2018 in Oslo, Norway, Oct. 1-3.

The SICE team, led by Tom Ongwere, a Ph.D. candidate in informatics, includes Professor of Informatics and Associate Dean for Research Kay Connelly, Assistant Professor James Clawson, Assistant Professor of Informatics Patrick Shih, and undergraduate students Gabrielle Cantor and Sergio Ramierz Martin. Ongwere will present the paper “Design Hotspots for Care of Discordant Chronic Comorbidities: Patients’ Perspectives,” which examines the design challenges of supporting patients managing multiple conditions whose suggested treatments may be in opposition to each other.

“Managing multiple chronic conditions is a challenge,” Ongwere said. “When we’re looking at design, systems to manage multiple chronic diseases has been largely ignored. For example, we have lot of tools to manage Type II diabetes. We have tools designed to help people with heart-related problems. But we don’t have tools to deal with the combination of them. You cannot use the same strategies to manage multiple chronic conditions. We’re looking at can we design some tools to help them manage the chronic conditions.”

The paper focuses on the experience of patients in juggling their treatments and conditions, and it highlights some other challenges faced by those living with multiple chronic ailments, such as communication.

“Patients with DCCs often deal with multiple healthcare providers, and if they’re not part of the same clinical system, they may not communicate with one another,” Ongwere said. “Most patients mentioned that healthcare providers depend on them to provide information on their conditions, and sometimes they can be overwhelmed with information or struggle to fully understand the information that has been provided to them. That can create issues.”

That management of DCC also can create financial pressures that can impact health outcomes.

“Patients may need this medication or that medication, or they may need to see a dietician or a therapist, but they can’t afford it,” Ongwere said. “Sometimes they ignore treatment plans that are recommended because of financial problems, or they may choose to focus on the treatment of one condition over another depending on the severity of symptoms, such as pain. Patients have multiple options in treatments, and there are short-term and long-term impacts of their choices.”

Ongwere and his team hope to use the information gleaned in the study to design tools to help patients manage their conditions.

“Tom’s work with patients with complex medical conditions is not only extremely important, it is a wonderful example of how graduate students and professors can work with undergraduate students to do research in the school,” Connelly said. “Gabi and Sergio were instrumental in analyzing the data from the interviews, and as a result, are co-authors on a first-rate publication very early in their careers.”

NordiCHI is a competitive conference with a 24 percent acceptance rate for papers. The premier Nordic forum for human-computer interaction research, this year’s conference aims to provoke reflections and understandings concerning the design process life cycles and how increasingly complex entanglements of use and design transcend the old divisions between design and use of interactive technologies.

For more information on the Proactive Health Informatics program at SICE, visit our website.

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