A sociotechnical systems approach toward tailored design for personal health information management

Nicole E. Werner*, Michelle Tong, Dan Nathan-Roberts, Catherine Arnott Smith, Ross Tredinnick, Kevin Ponto, M. Melles, Peter Hoonakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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We used a sociotechnical systems approach-which conceptualizes a system of interacting people, technologies, and tasks, to identify individual differences in personal health information management (PHIM) that can inform the design of patient-friendly environments, tools, and technologies. We conducted a secondary thematic analysis of data collected as part of a parent project, vizHOME. The goal of vizHOME was to improve health and health outcomes through identifying key features in the environment that will inform the design of consumer health information technology HIT. We analyzed interview data collected from 20 individuals with diabetes. We found seven dimensions of PHIM: (1) level of privacy preferred for PHIM; (2) amount of engagement in PHIM; (3) extent of guidance preferred for PHIM; (4) level of documentation preferred for PHIM; (5) degree of physical distribution of PHIM; (6) amount of flexibility in PHIM routine; and (7) use of external cues to manage PHIM. Our results suggest that each dimension exists as a continuum, which are anchored from low to high. Exploring the interaction between PHIM and the sociotechnical system in which PHIM is performed revealed key dimensions of PHIM as well as individual differences in those PHIM dimensions. Identification of individual differences in PHIM can support the creation of human-centered design considerations for tailored environments, products, processes, and technologies that support PHIM. Future research will seek to validate PHIM dimensions in a larger population and develop a PHIM-typing measure to identify PHIM types toward tailoring processes, products, and to individual needs in context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalPatient Experience Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Personal Health Information Management
  • sociotechnical system
  • Human Factors/Ergonomics
  • Diabetes
  • human- centered design


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