Measuring the impact of the computer on the consultation: An open source application to combine multiple observational outputs
Pflug B., Kumarapeli P., Van Vlymen J., Ammenwerth E., De Lusignan S.
A diverse range of tools and techniques can be used to observe the clinical consultation and the use of information technology. These technologies range from transcripts; to video observation with one or more cameras; to voice and pattern recognition applications. Currently, these have to be observed separately and there is limited capacity to combine them. Consequently, when multiple methods are used to analyse the consultation a significant proportion of time is spent linking events in one log file (e.g. mouse movements and keyboard use when prescribing alerts appear) with what was happening in the consultation at that time. The objective of this study was to develop an application capable of combining and comparing activity log-files and with facilities to view simultaneously all data relating to any time point or activity. Interviews, observations and design prototypes were used to develop a specification. Class diagram of the application design was used to make further development decisions. The application development used object-orientated design principles. We used open source tools; Java as the programming language and JDeveloper™ as the development environment. The final output is log file aggregation (LFA) tool which forms part of the wider aggregation of log files for analysis (ALFA) open source toolkit (www.biomedicalinformatics.info/alfa/). Testing was done using sample log files and reviewed the application's utility for analysis of the consultation activities. Separation of the presentation and functionality in the design stage enabled us to develop a modular and extensible application. The application is capable of converting and aggregating several log files of different formats and displays them in different presentation layouts. We used the Java Media Framework to aggregate video channels. Java extensible mark-up language (XML) package facilitated the conversion of aggregated output into XML format. Analysts can now move easily between observation tools and find all the data related to an activity. The LFA application makes new analysis tasks feasible and established tasks much more efficient. Researchers can now store multiple log file data as a single file isolate and investigate different doctorcomputerpatient interaction. © 2010 Informa UK Ltd.