Supporting medical communication for older patients with a shared touch-screen computer

Anne Marie Piper*, James D. Hollan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Objective: Increasingly health care facilities are adopting electronic medical record systems and installing computer workstations in patient exam rooms. The introduction of computer workstations into the medical interview process makes it important to consider the impact of such technology on older patients as well as new types of interfaces that may better suit the needs of older adults. While many older adults are comfortable with a traditional computer workstation with a keyboard and mouse, this article explores how a large horizontal touch-screen (i.e., a surface computer) may suit the needs of older patients and facilitates the doctor-patient interview process. Method: Twenty older adults (age 60 to 88) used a prototype multiuser, multitouch system in our research laboratory to examine seven health care scenarios. Behavioral observations as well as results from questionnaires and a structured interview were analyzed. Results: The older adults quickly adapted to the prototype system and reported that it was easy to use. Participants also suggested that having a shared view of one's medical records, especially charts and images, would enhance communication with their doctor and aid understanding. Conclusion: While this study is exploratory and some areas of interaction with a surface computer need to be refined, the technology is promising for sharing electronic patient information during medical interviews involving older adults. Future work must examine doctors' and nurses' interaction with the technology as well as logistical issues of installing such a system in a real world medical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E242-E250
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Communication
  • Elderly
  • Electronic Medical records
  • Health care technology
  • User-computer interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Supporting medical communication for older patients with a shared touch-screen computer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this