A Deeper Dive
Measurable data is a key component of any research. But for Professor Judith Gregory, it is what the numbers represent that is truly revealing. She is not content until she can explain the data and understand the reasons why people interact with technology the way they do. “I embed myself in a given organization or social trend so I can participate and observe,” she says. Through these intimately close encounters, she is able to deduce important lessons through which she equips developers with the insights they need to design better, and more user-friendly, IT systems.
The People Voice
Professor Gregory’s expertise has attracted the attention of organizations like Kaiser Permanente, where she spent five years observing how doctors, nurses and their patients interacted with early versions of an electronic health record system (EHR). “My role was to bring out the ‘people voice’ in IT design by understanding how the needs of care teams could be supported to enhance interactions with patients,” Professor Gregory says. Her insights contributed to design concepts that are now part of Kaiser Permanente’s leading EHR system.
Striking A Balance
With seed funding from the Intel Science & Technology Center for Social Computing and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Professor Gregory is shedding new light on self-tracking devices and apps that people use to generate, record and share personal data. “The idea is intriguing — and problematic,” Professor Gregory says. “We are accumulating a goldmine of data about our health habits. But how do we balance individual privacy needs with the benefits that sharing this data might bring?” It’s a delicate dance, one that Professor Gregory’s work shows can ultimately help both scientists and individuals.