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Romisa Ghahari and Ryan Ahmed

HCI alumni win Parkview Health’s health innovation competition

February 7, 2019

[Photo, left to right: Sue Ehinger, former chief experience officer, Parkview Health; Ryan Ahmed; Romisa Ghahari; and Mike Packnett, president and CEO, Parkview Health. Used with permission.]

Romisa Ghahari and Ryan Ahmed, respectively graduates of the Ph.D. and M.S. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) program at IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, recently won a health innovation competition hosted by Parkview Health in Fort Wayne.

Ghahari and Ahmed’s project, Mobile Text for Affordable Care, addressed challenges in healthcare delivery by advocating the development of a web-based provider directory that would allow underserved populations easier access to healthcare services in the region. Potential patients would be able to identify the availability, location, gender, and language of those who are willing to donate time providing care, either through use of technology or in person.

“To be inclusive, we propose two modalities for accessing information by patients in this population: simple push-pull SMS text messaging that works on both basic and smart phones, and interactive voice response (IVR)—a technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and a keypad,” they explained in their proposal.

Ghahari and Ahmed were introduced to leaders at Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation through their advisor, Davide Bolchini, HCI associate professor and chair of the Department of Human-Centered Computing, while still students at the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). Parkview Health is a research partner in healthcare innovation projects with faculty in the school.

“We are very proud of this important accomplishment and recognition of our HCI alumni,” said Bolchini, “which speaks volumes about their passion and innovative minds in leveraging existing technological platforms to design new and more accessible healthcare user experiences in our region.”

At Parkview, Ghahari worked as a full-time research scientist on the informatics research team, conducting focus groups, interviews, and usability evaluation sessions, and applying UX research methodologies to understand cardiac patients’ needs and design requirements to engage them in their health.

Ahmed works at Parkview as a User Experience Research Specialist and typically works with patients and health care providers, applying HCI methods in research studies and creating user-centered design of tools and technologies for improving care delivery or health outcomes. He said the HCI program taught him how to apply knowledge in real work situations through numerous practical projects and a highly relevant internship position. “I routinely use the knowledge earned at SoIC in my current role and often refer to materials used in my courses,” Ahmed said.

Parkview hosts the competition every year for its employees. The two worked together on the winning proposal and each had the similar advice for others. “Never be afraid to talk about your idea even it is the simplest idea and you might think other people have already thought about it,” Ghahari said. “Innovations do not always need to have a global impact. Simple ideas helping small communities can often be of great value,” Ahmed added.

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Joanne Lovrinic
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