Using conceptual work products of health care to design health IT

J Biomed Inform. 2016 Feb:59:15-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2015.10.014. Epub 2015 Oct 31.


This paper introduces a new, model-based design method for interactive health information technology (IT) systems. This method extends workflow models with models of conceptual work products. When the health care work being modeled is substantially cognitive, tacit, and complex in nature, graphical workflow models can become too complex to be useful to designers. Conceptual models complement and simplify workflows by providing an explicit specification for the information product they must produce. We illustrate how conceptual work products can be modeled using standard software modeling language, which allows them to provide fundamental requirements for what the workflow must accomplish and the information that a new system should provide. Developers can use these specifications to envision how health IT could enable an effective cognitive strategy as a workflow with precise information requirements. We illustrate the new method with a study conducted in an outpatient multiple sclerosis (MS) clinic. This study shows specifically how the different phases of the method can be carried out, how the method allows for iteration across phases, and how the method generated a health IT design for case management of MS that is efficient and easy to use.

Keywords: Case management; Conceptual work products; Electronic health record; Health IT; Human–computer interaction; Information architecture; Model-based design; User interface; Workflow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Humans
  • Medical Informatics / methods*
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Software*
  • User-Computer Interface