From user needs to system specifications: multi-disciplinary thematic seminars as a collaborative design method for development of health information systems

J Biomed Inform. 2008 Aug;41(4):557-69. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2008.01.012. Epub 2008 Feb 7.


This paper presents a new multi-disciplinary method for user needs analysis and requirements specification in the context of health information systems based on established theories from the fields of participatory design and computer supported cooperative work (CSCW). Whereas conventional methods imply a separate, sequential needs analysis for each profession, the "multi-disciplinary thematic seminar" (MdTS) method uses a collaborative design process. Application of the method in elderly homecare resulted in prototypes that were well adapted to the intended user groups. Vital information in the points of intersection between different care professions was elicited and a holistic view of the entire care process was obtained. Health informatics-usability specialists and clinical domain experts are necessary to apply the method. Although user needs acquisition can be time-consuming, MdTS was perceived to efficiently identify in-context user needs, and transformed these directly into requirements specifications. Consequently the method was perceived to expedite the entire ICT implementation process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Hospital Information Systems / organization & administration*
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Needs Assessment / organization & administration*