The workflow of clinicians in a patient ward can be described as nomadic. In addition to sitting in an office or fixed location (knowledge work), clinicians also roam through the hospital while doing their work (mobile work). This work typically includes collaborations with a large number of people and usage of physical tools and computing devices that are spread over multiple locations. Clinicians roam from one location to another while interacting with both mobile and stationary tools and devices. Most of these tools and devices are, however, intrinsically disconnected from each other, forcing clinicians to manually reconfigure the active work setting according to the situation. This results in work interruptions, information fragmentation and a disconnected workflowcrossing several information resources. Furthermore, there is little support for the ongoing collaborative context, situation or specific role of the device.

Clinician interacting with the multi-device smartward system.

In this research project, we are investigating how activity-centric computing can be used as a context-aware approach to this multi-device configuration problem in distributed interaction in hospitals. The Smartward interface is composed of three components:

  • an interactive large display supporting vertical tangible user interfaces
  • desktop computers running a modified version of the Patient Manager (a modified version of coActivity Manager)
  • tablets that allows for off-screen configuration based on the current owner and ongoing activity

SmartWard is a distributed context-aware patient management and information infrastructure designed to support multi-device location-aware collaborative workflows in patient wards. SmartWard supports patient management across large interactive displays, tablets and desktop computers and uses an ultrasound location tracker for location-aware services. The infrastructure is built on top of a general purpose activity-centric infrastructure , which provides a number of standardized distributed functions including support for file and event management, device discovery and context handling.



icnbook B.2
  • Activity-Centric Support for the Distributed Configuration Problem in Clinical Work
  • S. Houben and J.E. Bardram 
  • To appear in Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science, iCareNet Book, 2015.
  • ActivityWard: Supporting the round activity in a hospital ward through the use of tablets and digitized whiteboards
  • Søren Buron and Nikolaj Søren Dons Lund
  • Master thesis published at IT University of Copenhagen, 2014.
config W.5
  • Activity-Centric Configuration Work in Nomadic Computing
  •  S. Houben and J.E. Bardram
  • In the workshop HCI Research in Healthcare: Using Theory from Evidence to Practice, CHI 14.
noosphere C.5
  • NooSphere: An Activity-Centric Infrastructure for Distributed Interaction
  • S. Houben, S. Nielsen, M. Esbensen, J.E. Bardram
  • In Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM’13), ACM, 10 pages (bibtex)
  • [~33,6% acceptance; 107 submissions]