• AMIA Symposium Student Design Challenge

AMIA 2014 Student Design Challenge: "Beyond Patient Portals: Engaging Patients with their Healthcare Providers"

AMIA is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Student Design Challenge (SDC). In this challenge we invite teams of graduate students from different scientific disciplines and of various backgrounds to propose creative solutions to a specified problem related to healthcare. We seek novel solutions that incorporate cutting edge computational and interactive technologies and take advantage of the considerable advances in such research areas as biomedical informatics, human-computer interaction, computer science, information visualization, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, among many others. A panel of distinguished members of the AMIA community will review the proposed solutions and select the best proposals based on a number of criteria, including their originality and transformative potential. Eight teams selected as finalists will be asked to attend AMIA Annual Symposium and present their solutions during the AMIA poster session. The top four teams as selected by the SDC panel will be invited to participate in a formal presentation at AMIA.

This year the Student Design Challenge is inviting submissions that focus on novel and original approaches to facilitating communication, information exchange, and cooperation between individuals and their healthcare providers. Patient engagement has become a high priority for many healthcare institutions. Many of these institutions use dedicated portals to provide their patients with access to information and a means of communication with their provider. However, for a variety of reasons, the adoption of patient portals still remains low. We invite student teams to envision new approaches beyond traditional patient portals that will engage patients as equal, informed partners in decisions regarding their healthcare and facilitate increased cooperation between patients and their healthcare providers.


  • August 1, 2014 – proposal submission deadline
  • September 1, 2014 – notifications to authors
  • September 10, 2014 – final accepted revision submission deadline


Please read the entire Challenge description. If you have any questions about this process, please send an email to studentdesignchallenge@amia.org

Problem Introduction
Call For Submissions
SDC Committee

Health information technology (HIT) such as electronic health records, clinical decision support systems, and computerized provider order entry is changing how health care providers communicate, exchange information, and interact with each other within organizations. Similarly, the introduction of patient portals was intended to enhance patient engagement by not only allowing patients access to their own medical information but also by providing them the ability to electronically communicate with their healthcare providers (Ammensworth, Schnell-Inderst, Hoerbst, 2012). Increasing patient engagement is expected to lead to improvement in the coordination of care as well as the quality of care received by the patients. Although the goals of the patient portals are laudable, these portals face a number of challenges (Bell, 2012). Some of these challenges are more apparent and immediate; for example they include ensuring:

  • the security of the patient data
  • that the right patients get the right information
  • that the portals are easy to use for the patient and providers
  • that patients get the information that is most relevant to their needs

Other challenges are more complex and require not only ensuring information appropriateness and security, but also redefining what is meant by patient engagement (Prey, et al. 2013). Are patient engagement tools simply a way to provide patients access to their medical data and communicate with their healthcare providers? Or is it is an approach to empower the patient in her healthcare decision-making process? The focus on patient empowerment opens new possibilities for the design of technologies for engagement, but also raises many new questions. For example, what is the scope and origin of data included in these portals? Should they only include medical data provided by their healthcare provider, or should the patient be able to enter her own data, for example data collected with health and lifestyle monitoring technologies? Should it include subjective impressions and options? Should it have an impact only on individuals’ medical care, or should it strive to help them make daily choices and decisions related to their health? How do we ensure that the data collected in such portals are reliable and authentic? What are the ways to avoid information overload for both patients and clinicians and make the data useful and usable to both? Should these portals be accessible only by the individuals, or also by their family members who may be involved in their care? And how to ensure that the portals benefit both clinicians and patients and lead to improved care?

The focus of this design challenge is on designing novel approaches to enhance patient engagement with their information pertaining to their health and healthcare and communication and with their healthcare providers. We invite graduate students from different scientific disciplines and of various backgrounds to re-imagine patient engagement – either through re-inventing patient portals or designing different mechanisms for supporting these interactions. Specifically, we are looking for solutions that reduce the burden on patients and healthcare providers but at the same time better facilitate information sharing and decision-making between patients and providers. We seek novel solutions that incorporate cutting edge computational and interactive technologies and take advantage of the considerable advances in such research areas as biomedical informatics, human-computer interaction, computer science, information visualization, pervasive and ubiquitous computing, among many others.


  1. Ammensworth, E., P. Schnell-Inderst, and A. Hoerbst. (2012). The Impact of Electronic Patient Portals on Patient Care: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. J Med Internet Res. 2012 Nov-Dec; 14(6): e162.
  2. Bell, Heath. (2012). Portals Hold Promise for Patient Engagement but Challenges Remain. iHealthBeat. http://www.ihealthbeat.org/perspectives/2012/portals-hold-promise-for-patient-engagement-but-challenges-remain. Accessed: 5/1/14.
  3. Prey, JE, Woollen, J., Wilcox, L., Sackeim, AD, Hripcsak, G.,Bakken, S., Restaino, S., Feiner, S., Vawdrey, D.K. Patient engagement in the inpatient setting: a systematic review. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013. Nov 22 [epub ahead of print]

To participate in the challenge, we invite teams of students to submit their original design solutions for Beyond Patient Portals: Engaging Patients with their Healthcare Providers. To qualify for participation, teams may include students in degree-pursuing undergraduate or graduate programs (including post-doctoral fellows pursing MA or MS degrees) or Graduate Certificates. The undergraduate students must be part of a team that has at least one graduate student on it. Given the nature of the creative process, we suggest that teams include no more than 4 or 5 individuals. No faculty advising is required for participation.

Each team will be asked to identify a specific challenge related to Beyond Patient Portals: Engaging Patients with their Healthcare Providers. We recommend that teams consider challenges that have significant impact on patient engagement. Some potential challenges related to patient access to medical information and communication with providers could include but are not limited to:

  • Determining the most relevant types of information to present to patients;
  • Effectively presenting the information to patients in ways that understandable to them (i.e. visualization techniques);
  • Improving the communication mechanisms between patients and their providers
  • Designing features that “empower” the patient
  • Designing new ways to incorporate patient-generated data into clinical decision-making

Competition Process

  1. Each team will submit an extended abstract (5 page maximum) discussing their description of the specific challenge related to Beyond Patient Portals: Engaging Patients with their Healthcare Providers, the proposed solution, and their design process. Supplementary materials (including storyboards and mockups, or source code and sample output) can be submitted as PDF. The supplementary material would not count against the 5 page maximum. The submission process will be done through ScholarOne (more details on the submission process are to follow). The submissions will be evaluated through a peer-review process by the SDC steering committee.
  2. The 8 best proposals will be asked to present their solutions during a poster session at AMIA 2014. At least one member from each of the 8 teams will be expected to attend the conference to present a poster illustrating their solution, discuss their solution, and the design process with conference attendees. AMIA will wave registration fee for one presenter from each of the eight teams, with the expectation that the presenter holds a student membership with either AMIA or ACM.
  3. 4 teams will also be notified prior to the symposium that their proposal has been selected as a finalist for the AMIA SDC Award. They will be asked to give a presentation about their solution during the AMIA Student Design Challenge session. The 4 finalists will give an oral presentation and, where appropriate, demonstration of their design to the panel of SDC Judges and AMIA attendees. The judges will rank the solutions and presentations to identify the winner and subsequent 2nd and 3rd place teams. The winners will be announced during the last day of AMIA Annual Symposium and awarded cash prizes. The cash prizes in 2013 were $1000, $500, $250. The 2014 cash prize amounts are to be determined.

Abstract Preparation

The participants will prepare an extended abstract (five pages maximum) written in the AMIA format that should include:

  • Definition of the selected challenge related to electronic clinical documentation grounded in deep understanding of related clinical processes
  • Description of the proposed solution
  • Discussion of alternative solutions considered
  • Discussion of the strengths and weakness of the chosen solution as compared to the alternatives
  • Proposed implementation and dissemination plan (what it would take for this solution to be adopted on a large scale)
  • Proposed evaluation plan (the participants will be expected to outline potential directions for evaluation, but not to perform it)

The Supplementary Materials should include:

  • For interactive solutions: a mockup or storyboard illustrating the proposed functionality and the interaction of the proposed solution, a link to a video demo of the system. (in a PDF document)
  • For computational solutions: source code of the solution as a text file or a link to the team’s github repository as well as sample output file (in a PDF document)

The completed abstract and any supplementary documents should be submitted using ScholarOne by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 1, 2014. If you do not already have a ScholarOne account, you will need to create one. AMIA member log-in will not provide access to ScholarOne. If you are not sure if you already have an account or if you have one, but do not remember your user name and password, please contact Dasha Cohen at dasha@amia.org

Review Criteria

All proposed solutions will be reviewed by the SDC Steering Committee, consisting of distinguished members from the AMIA and HCI communities. The members of the Steering Committee will review the abstracts and assess their quality, focusing on both the actual proposed solution, and its description and justification in the proposal, based on the following criteria:

  • Understanding of the clinical process (does the solution address an important clinical problem in a realistic way and does it demonstrate a deep understanding of the clinical process)
  • Fit to the problem (how likely is the proposed solution to address the selected problem?)
  • Innovation (how novel and original is the solution?)
  • Transformative potential (how likely is it to transform the nature of patient engagement?)
  • Completeness (is the solution is well thought-out and complete)
  • Clarity of the design process (how well the solution and the design process described in the abstract)
  • Clarity of the strengths and weaknesses discussion (do the teams have a realistic and thoughtful assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their solutions?)
  • Appropriateness of the evaluation approach (is the evaluation plan appropriate for the solution?)


The SDC awards ceremony will take place during the last day of AMIA Annual Symposium. The winner, second and third place will receive plaques and cash prizes (amount to be determined).


  • August 1, 2014 – proposal submission deadline
  • September 1, 2014 – notifications to authors
  • September 10, 2014 – final accepted revision submission deadline


If you have any questions about this process, please send an email to studentdesignchallenge@amia.org

Lena Mamykina, PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University

Dr. Mamykina’s broad research interests include individual’s sensemaking and problem-solving in context of health management, collective sensemaking within online health support communities, clinical reasoning and decision-making, communication and coordination of work in clinical teams, and ways to support these practices with informatics interventions.

Dr. Mamykina received her B.S. in Computer Science from the Ukrainian State University of Maritime Technology, M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and M.A. in Biomedical Informatics from Columbia University. Her dissertation work at Georgia Tech focused on facilitating reflection and learning in context of diabetes management with mobile and ubiquitous computing. Prior to joining DBMI as a faculty member, she completed a National Library of Medicine Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the department.

Madhu Reddy, PhD, Associate Professor
College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems (CIHDS) Penn State University

Dr. Reddy’s research focuses on issues of collaboration in healthcare. He is particularly interested in how healthcare providers collaborate during information seeking and decision-making activities and the role that HIT plays in supporting these types of collaboration in clinical settings.

Dr. Reddy received his M.S. in Health Care Administration from the California State University, Long Beach, M.S. in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine, and Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Patricia Flatley Brennan, Ph.D, Moehlman Bascom Professor
Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Brennan's research focuses on designing and evaluating home care community computer systems for use by patients. Her work ranges from the development and evaluation of computer networks as a mechanism for delivering nursing care to homebound ill persons and their caregivers to assessing the impact of patient-centered computer technology on the health outcomes of persons following coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Her most current projects include exploring how individuals and families manage health information in their homes, studying the usability of secure email use in clinics, and is developing information tools and resources to support self-care and health self-management.

James Durrell, MBA
Sr. Director, Siemens Healthcare

Jim Durrell is Sr. Director, Clinical Solutions, for Siemens Healthcare. In this role, he is one of the core team members for the Soarian Clinicals EHR. He is responsible for R&D teams in the U.S., India, and Romania, including the team building the Soarian Mobile solution. Prior to joining Siemens, Jim was CTO of Health Monitoring Solutions, which provides public health reporting for several hundred hospitals across the U.S. Jim received both his B.S. in Computer Science and his MBA from Penn State University and was formerly an adjunct professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Science.

Paul Gorman, MD
Associate Professor,
Department of Biomedical Informatics, Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Gorman's research is focused on the use of information by experts, mainly clinicians, in real-world problem-solving, mainly patient care. Most often, his work uses observational methods to study the activities of individuals and groups as they use information to perform real world tasks, e.g., information needs, seeking and use, naturalistic decision making, distributed cooperative problem solving, distributed cognition, and social informatics.

George Hripcsak, MD, MS, Chair, Department of Biomedical Informatics
Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor of Biomedical Informatics Director, Medical Informatics Services, NYP/Columbia

George Hripcsak, MD, MS, is Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, Director of Medical Informatics Services forNewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Senior Informatics Advisor at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Hripcsak is a board-certified internist with degrees in chemistry, medicine, and biostatistics. He led the effort to create the Arden Syntax, a language for representing health knowledge that has become a national standard. Dr. Hripcsak’scurrent research focus is on the clinical information stored in electronic health records. Using data mining techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing, he is developing the methods necessary to support clinical research and patient safety initiatives.

Jonathan Nebeker, MD, MS
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine,
University of Utah, School of Medicine

Dr. Nebeker is currently interested in translating theoretical frameworks from social and cognitive psychology to medicine for designing and evaluating user interfaces for EHRs (with Charlene Weir and Frank Drews.) He led a project to translate the Contextual Control Model from a branch of Cognitive Systems Engineering. Guided by this translated model, his team developed a new paradigm for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for EHRs. Instead of focusing on data, which is typical of current EHRs, the GUI focuses on thought- and workflow. The GUIs incorporate ideas from mindset, dual process, and communication theories. They featured information displays that are designed to reduce cognitive effort to understand what is going on with the patient. In a randomized controlled trial versus a widely used traditional interface, the new interfaces were significantly faster—despite minimal training in the unfamiliar interfaces.

Dr. Nebeker also has national leadership roles in VA. He is Director of VA Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI.) VINCI is a secure, powerful, virtualized computing environment with national clinical data back to 2000. In addition to directing the center, Dr. Nebeker leads GUI development for several applications. Dr. Nebeker is the Clinical Lead for the DoD-VA Integrated EHR Graphical User Interface. In this capacity he coordinates with national VA clinical leads and directs the vision for the new paradigm for the iEHR interfaces.

Wanda Pratt, Ph.D
Professor, Information School, Division of Biomedical & Health Informatics, University of Washington

Wanda Pratt is a Professor in both the Information School and the Division of Biomedical & Health Informatics in the Medical School at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. in Medical Informatics from Stanford University, her M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas, and her B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas. Her published papers span a wide range of topics whose central theme is to understand the problem of information overload in a variety of health contexts and to develop new types technology to address those problems. She received an NSF CAREER Award for her work on literature-based discovery systems.

Samuel Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI
Dr. Rosenbloom is the Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, the Director of Patient Engagement Technologies and an Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics with secondary appointments in Medicine, Pediatrics and the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University. He is a board certified Internist and Pediatrician who earned his M.D., completed a residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, a fellowship in Biomedical Informatics, and earned an MPH all at Vanderbilt. Since joining the faculty in 2002, Dr. Rosenbloom has become a nationally recognized investigator in the field of health information technology evaluation. His research has focused on studying how healthcare providers interact with health information technologies when engaging patients, documenting patient care and making clinical decisions. Dr. Rosenbloom has successfully competed for extramural funding from the National Library of Medicine and from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the role of principal investigator. Dr. Rosenbloom’s work has resulted in lead and collaborating authorship on over 60 peer reviewed manuscripts, which have been published in Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,Pediatrics, Annals of Internal Medicine, andAcademic Medicine, among others. In addition, Dr. Rosenbloom has authored and coauthored 5 book chapters and numerous posters, white papers and invited papers. He has been a committed member of the principal professional organization in his field, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). He has served AMIA in leadership roles, including participating in: a Scientific Program Committee, the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) Editorial Board, a national Health Policy Meeting Committee, the JAMIA Editor in Chief search committee, and a Working Group on Unintended Consequences. As a result of his research success and service to AMIA, Dr. Rosenbloom was the annual recipient of the competitive AMIA New Investigator Award in 2009, and was elected to the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) in 2011. In addition, Dr. Rosenbloom has participated in study sections for the National Library of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare. He has also participated as a member of the HL7 Pediatric Data Special Interest Group and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Clinical Information Technology. In addition, Dr. Rosenbloom is an active reviewer several journals covering general medicine, pediatrics and biomedical informatics.