The ZipIT project (1.9.2004 - 31.8.2007)

Health care professionals need detailed information about patients as easily and quickly as possible to support their work. The delicate information of patients has to be faultless, and it requires strong data protection and patient assent for use of the information. In order for information systems and software to support work activity, analysts and designers have to understand the work activity of the people using their systems. The objective of the group of the ZipIT projects (ZipIT, ZipIT-ojo and ActAD-HIS), organized jointly by the University of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences, is to narrow the distance between different worlds of work improvement and information system development. It was made by developing the model for activity-driven development of health information systems. With that model, it is possible to see the subject of development in context and effects of planned changes. The activity-driven information system development (ISD) model is made for health care organizations to specify needs and requirements for information systems.

According to the activity-driven ISD model, the successful development presumes that the present state of the work activity is carefully analyzed. Then it is possible to define essential needs and the goal state of the system so that both software engineers and health care professionals can understand future systems in the same way. After all of that, it is possible to plan how to realize the goal state. Usually the development project needs information about the ensemble of the organization, even between several organizations, information about everyday work practices and collaboration, and finally, information about a work-activity of an individual staffer.

The activity-driven ISD model is based on activity theory and pilot cases made during the ZipIT projects. In pilot cases, made in close cooperation with our partners, we explored, tried out, and developed various methods of activity theory, computer science, software engineering, and user interface and interaction design. Altogether there were ten pilot cases with different aims related, for example, to exploration of information needs in work activity, development of the new software product, selecting of the existing software, or changes in work activity caused by implementation of the new software. The work in the pilot projects are premised on the basis of existing methods of development and the revising and adapting of them. The research was mainly action research, alternating between action and critical reflection, where action was hands-on development cases and reflection was evolving of the activity-driven model for health information system development. As a conclusion it can be said that the activity-driven approach was an effective way to analyze complex work-activity and diverse elements of it.

ZipIT project is a member of the research network of Centek, a center for education and research of information technology and IT applications in environmental technology, health care, business management, and industrial design. ZipIT is a collaborative project by four research teams from the University of Kuopio and Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The project is funded by the Finnish National Technology Agency [grants No. 40426/04, 40354/05, 40252/06 & No. 790/04, 644/05, 644/06], the Finnish Work Environment Fund [grant No. 104151], and a group of health care organisations and software companies. Research directors are Dr. Anneli Ensio and Dr. Anja Mursu from Kuopio University and Dr. Maritta Korhonen from Savonia University of Applied Sciences.

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Last Modified 13.9.2007 Edit