Beki Grinter

Wellness Informatics at CHI 2010

In research, wellness informatics on April 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm


I’m blogging from the workshop I’m co-organizing today on Wellness Informatics. What am I learning?

Facebook is a potential mechanism for communicating wellness goals, but they don’t want seem boastful or over share and clutter up their friends facebook streams. What’s the sweet spot for using such pervasive systems then? It potentially varies by disease, by who they are sharing the information with. Facebook does not do selective sharing yet. Sean Munson et al. from the University of Michigan.

Germans’ definition of wellness includes relaxing, that’s an interesting take. WHO defines “health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” WHO 1948. Personal monitoring is now being combined with online communities, but for specific examples such as exercise, diet, or health records. And also finds that sharing and a sharing overload is a problem. Jochen Meyer at al. from OFFIS and U Oldenburg.

Robots could be a potential mechanism for promoting health and wellness, but the SERA project shows that the engagement with robots is complicated with respect to health. Study with British elders and a Nabaztag which they had for 10 days reports mixed results. Robots have complicated adoption curves. Tineke Klamer and colleagues from University Twente.

An exploratory study (desk research and initial visits) to senior centres to understand what programs are offered and the relationship between those and wellness for seniors. One benefit is that people meet new people and that reduces depression and isolation. Reminds me of the more holistic definition of wellness, not just disease prevention but a state of being. Also starting to see a continuum of participation, senior centre programs some times fail because there are not enough volunteers, i.e. a lack of participation. Facebook and online seems to flip the equation to one of too much participation. Thinking that this continuum is important to understanding for wellness. Seniors also seemed to want education at home rather than at the centre, and of course education… Lee et al from Motorola.

Sunny Consolvo of Intel presents long-term research from Intel on Houston and UbiFit Garden. Mobile phones for steps but also includes the social influence via easy sharing of supportive messages. Intel research Seattle and U Washington have a long history in this space. Lots of experiences, including knowing that pedometers are one of the most reliable and easy to work with physical monitoring device. Their experiences really strengthen our notion that temporality. It’s not just a systems experiment, but also how life changes and how learning by the individual changes. How do you sustain interest over time. Technology should account for relevant wellness behaviors an not artificially limit support to those that it can automatically infer. People focused on step count rather than taking exercise, you get more step counts walking than running. Systems have to account for irregularity, what if you get sick, well of course fitness changes. Also, the systems have to be able to go into various settings, so it has to be socially sensitive.

L. Pina from UCSD is focusing on sensing the environment at both a population and an individual level. What can you get from doing both? Particularly if you feed the population data back to an individual. It’s an exciting synthesis of the two. They have a variety of systems in place at this point all to try and help get data from the area to an individual so that they can make informed decisions about their health. For example, asthma management.

Garett Dworman questions the type of information that you can find on the Internet to help you manage your own wellness. Pushing out information to people so that they can make more informed decisions. It’s not just data, but synthesis of the data. Synthesis. Is Patients like me a possible site that’s doing this? But data in turn raises the question about mis-information. What does it mean when 2000 people get the wrong information because it was not regulated or filtered for accuracy. Reliability and accuracy is a challenge.

Gijs Geleijnse talked about a recommender system for recipes. But, you don’t want to experiment in the kitchen when you’re there, so the recommendations need to be close to the original recipe. Does that come back to the point about it’s got to work with people’s daily habits. So recommended recipes “tweek” the original to make it more healthy. Recipes also have to be nationally/culturally/locally tailored, since ingredients are hard to find outside of their place of origin. Also weights and measures vary. People who home cook have about 7-14 recipes in their home cooking repertoire.

Lucian Leahu presents a focus on wellness that includes mental illness, since it’s a rapidly growing area of health concern. Taking a focus on fear, what is healthy levels of fear, versus fear that becomes trauma. People seek fear because of the excitement, for some fear is a sign that a person has reached the limit of their bodies or minds, fear is also a resource, the sharing of stories that involve fear teach novices about what to fear, i.e. educates them about what are real dangers.

There’s a repeating theme of not being preachy. People don’t want to be lectured by technology.

Peggy Nachtigall is also focused on cooking and helping people to cook more healthy meals. Their system rate food not by nutritional values, but by colour codes. Green is healthy and red is not. Why, to make it easier for people to use. User testing focused on 40 users, all were women. Women appear to be on the front lines for wellness informatics, as caregivers and cooks. Cooking is also not just about ingredients, it’s also about skills. Understanding both aspects of cooking is essential.

Daniel Nicolalde. The Freshmen 15, that’s the 15 pounds that college students gain when they arrive at College. Students are a relevant population, as opposed to being a locally available population. They do not eat well, or apparently get enough sleep. Systems need to adapt. Adaption as goals change, as learning occurs, to remain engaging over time. Adaption is crucial because of the temporality of the system.

Winchester. Focused on African American communities with the goal of addressing health disparities. How could smart homes be a resource for wellness and health goals. Also a lens onto culturally empowered design. Wellness informatics should leverage readily available technologies (is there a tension between smart homes and readily available technologies?). Also makes the case that it’s not just about providing products, but also about coming up with a set of design methods and a framework to help guide other people in developing similar technologies. Also asks are the health communities focusing on IT fragmented? Health 2.0, Behavioral Informatics, Wellness Informatics, Consumer Health Informatics… how do we keep track of what’s happening?

Ekbia, begins by introducing the collaborative health paradigm where patients and providers are partners in their wellness. Makes a distinction between electronic medical record which mediated between patient and provider, to personal health records that are more collaborative in interaction. Again he’s focused on students, their health problems are not just serious but they are steadily growing. One challenge, they are at the point where they feel healthy and are invincible. At the same time they have no history of self-management of their health and wellness. Serious games for health, games that try to teach and educate but in an engaging and meaningful way. Gaming also part of an approach to learning in socially acceptable way.

Mayora discusses the dimensions of wellness. Again, it’s far more than just being healthy. It’s physical, cognitive, psychological, health, relationships with others, and the environment. Thats a lot to include in the design space, so they have (based on their experience) propose the following. Wellness needs to create consciousness of the wellness state, good habits should be created and bad ones gently corrected. People should not be working for the device, but towards the creation of habits. Design should be contagious, create the motivation for people to have a healthy lifestyle. Finally applications should be fun, that increases engagement. Why not include fun, the piano stairs which encourage people to take the stairs rather than the escalator.

Mamykina ended with a set of reflections about how two communities need to merge. The medical community brings a wealth of information and theories about how people engage with wellness over time that we could use for evaluation. We bring our understanding of technology and it’s human-centered design to the equation.

Our dreams, what would we be proud if we had solved….

  1. Find the key to using socio-computational mechanisms to improve health and wellness
  2. Reduce health disparities via technology
  3. Developing technologies that people use to go from intention to change to actual change

What would be different about health and wellness theories if we took interaction more seriously? We must move from one way direction to bidirectional.

I’ll write more later but that’s it for now.


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