Abstract: The aim of this instructional workshop is to introduce informaticians to qualitative approaches that can be used within a design thinking process, putting the user, rather than the technologist, at the center of the design effort. Design thinking is a newer iteration of a holistic engineering design process. Traditional systems development is often technologist driven, prioritizing the expertise and assumptions of the designer. Consequently, it often fails to adequately consider users’ needs and preferences. User acceptance of the resulting systems is often challenging, and redesign and development efforts can be prohibitively costly and time consuming. This workshop provides a hands-on orientation to qualitative approaches in the design thinking process, which are essential to informatics development, but not commonly taught in informatics curricula.

Using both didactic and participatory techniques, we will introduce the design thinking process; present the benefits and implications of qualitative approaches as part of the design thinking process as it relates to public health and consumer health information systems development efforts; and, introduce specific qualitative methods and techniques. This tutorial will include mock data collection activities that illustrate how these tools are integrated and used in practice. Participants will be engaged in developing and presenting a design thinking approach to a system development effort they are currently working on, and will receive feedback on their approach from the instructors and their peers. Based on previous tutorials we have presented and conversations at AMIA, we have learned from our colleagues about the need for training that focuses on qualitative methods within the design process.

Learning Objective 1:
Explicate the rationale for design thinking and the relevance of this approach to their own work, and its relationship to other design methodologies.

Learning Objective 2: Enumerate four qualitative design methods and identify phases of the design thinking process in which each is most applicable.

Learning Objective 3: Synthesize tutorial content to recommend a design thinking approach for integrating qualitative methods into the design thinking approach to a public health or consumer health informatics project.

Learning Objective 4:
Evaluate other tutorial attendees’ design thinking work plans for integrating qualitative methods into the design thinking approach and offer constructive criticism.


Barbara Massoudi (Presenter)
RTI International

Rupa Valdez (Presenter)
University of Virginia

Presentation Materials: