Reusable design methods for public health information systems
Public Health Informatics (PHI) now has a recognized research agenda, a list of competencies, and a body of technical knowledge from which to draw. Though significant progress has been made in the field of PHI, public health informaticians do not have a shared set of recognized methods for the design of public health information systems. We suggest that a formalized set of design methods would be beneficial to the field and to public health practice. Though public health work is unique in many ways,
the challenges of designing systems for public health are shared with design problems in other domains. As a demonstration, we map design problems in public health to classic problems that occur in all design work. We then describe scenario-based design (SBD) and participatory design (PD); two methodologies that have been used widely in other domains. Both SBD and PD offer tested techniques to aid in the creation of reusable
design knowledge for PHI. In this presentation, we describe six general design problems with corresponding examples specific to PHI design challenges. We then present a set of methods that we suggest will be useful in building standards-based, interoperable public health information systems. We believe these methods can help create design knowledge that can be reused and decrease the cost of information system projects with similar characteristics.