Five minutes with Nicki Newton, PhD

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Five minutes with Nicki Newton, PhD

Please tell us a little about yourself 

I’m a first year PhD student in Prof Melissa Baysari’s Digital Health Human Factors research group, working on a large collaborative project with QUT, Sydney LHD, Murrumbidgee LHD, eHealth NSW, Alcidion and the Digital Health CRC. I have an undergraduate honours degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Usyd, and recently completed a graduate certificate in Interaction Design at UTS. I’ve also been working in digital health for the last couple of years. 

I’ve always been really interested in psychology but while working in project management during my undergad, I became drawn to technology and how people can use systems to improve work practices. It was through this that I first learnt about user experience and developed a passion for understanding human behaviour from a holistic perspective, including how people interact with technology and how this is influenced by the environment around them. I’m really excited about how this can be applied in digital health to improve the fit between health technologies and their users, and ultimately the impact that this can have on both clinician and patient experiences.

What is your research on?

My research centres around optimising the use of clinical decision support systems in hospitals. We are particularly interested in understanding how clinicians accept and use these systems immediately following implementation in practice. As with any technology, success depends heavily on how systems are liked and taken up by their intended users, however there is currently a lack of research on how this develops during the early phases of decision support implementation. Recent studies have shown this phase of implementation to be critical in health settings as clinicians often experience dips in performance following the introduction of a new system, which are consequently associated with an increase in errors and risk to patient harm. Research from other disciplines also suggests that early experiences with a system may influence how they are accepted and used long-term. Through my PhD, we’ll explore how we can best support clinicians during the early phases of decision support implementation and also what can be done during this time to ensure their optimal long-term use.

At the moment, I’m working on a systematic review that will identify the factors influencing clinician acceptance and use of decision support systems from the early phases of implementation, through to long-term use. We hope this will help to capture what works and doesn’t work, in different contexts, at different points in time following implementation.

What are the real world consequences of your research? 

I’m very lucky to be part of an industry project, where our research focuses on solving real world challenges that health services are currently facing. Decision support systems have the potential to improve healthcare in many ways, but this will only happen if they are actually used by the people they are designed for. We plan to use findings from our systematic review to enhance the uptake of new clinical decision support systems being implemented at hospital sites in Sydney LHD, with the aim of improving the fit between these systems, clinicians and their workflows. We hope that findings from our research will then be applied to future decision support implementations to support clinicians and promote sustained uptake over time.

What does digital health mean to you?

I believe the true value of digital health lies in understanding how data and technology can be used to complement humans by supporting our inherent limitations and targeting current inefficiencies in healthcare. For example, humans are not so great at remembering lots of details at once where this is something that computers excel at; and on the other hand, we are much better at applying learnings from different situations and using context to come to a conclusion than computers. These differences in human and computer strengths are accentuated in hospital settings where time is limited, pressure is high and situations are complex.

Utilising technology to complement people and adapting it to fit a given context is where I think digital health can produce the most benefits and therefore, why understanding the human factors surrounding technology implementations is so important.

Do you have any resources or links you would like to share? 

Connect with me on LinkedIn. For more information on our research group.  

By | 2022-03-22T11:29:02+10:00 March 22nd, 2022|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

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