Computing at the speed of paper : ubiquitous computing environments for healthcare professionals
Abstract: Despite the introduction of computers in most work environments, the anticipated paperless workplace has not yet emerged. Research has documented that material objects are essential in the organization of thought and that they support everyday collaborative processes performed by staff members. However, modern desktop computing systems with abstract graphical user interfaces fail to support the tangible dimension. This work presents a novel approach to clinical computing that goes beyond the traditional user-interface paradigm and relieves clinicians of the burden of the mouse and keyboard.The activities of people working in an emergency room were examined empirically to ascertain how clinicians use real paper objects. The results showed that the professionals arranged their workplaces and created material structures that increased cognitive and collaborative performance. Essential factors in these strategies were the availability of physical tools such as paper-based patient records and forms that could be spatially positioned to constitute reminders and direct the attention of the team, and to form shared displays of the work situation.NOSTOS is an experimental ubiquitous computing environment for co-located healthcare teams. In this system, several interaction devices, including paper-based interfaces, digital pens, walk-up displays, and a digital desk, form a workspace that seamlessly blends virtual and physical objects. The objective of the design was to enhance familiar workplace tools to function as user interfaces to the computer in order to retain established cognitive and collaborative routines.A study was also conducted to compare the tangible interaction model for clinical computing with a traditional computer-based patient record system with a graphical user interface. The analysis suggests that, in ordinary clinical environments, cognitive and collaborative strategies are better supported by the tangible augmented paper approach and a digital desk than the traditional desktop computing method with its graphical user interfaces. In conclusion, the present findings indicate that tangible paper-based user interfaces and basic augmented environments will prove to be successful in future clinical workplaces.
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