Icon and user interface design for emergency medical information systems: A case study

Y. Batu Salman, Hong In Cheng, Patrick E. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


A usable medical information system should allow for reliable and accurate interaction between users and the system in emergencies. A participatory design approach was used to develop a medical information system in two Turkish hospitals. The process consisted of task and user analysis, an icon design survey, initial icon design, final icon design and evaluation, and installation of the iconic medical information system with the icons. We observed work sites to note working processes and tasks related to the information system and interviewed medical personnel. Emergency personnel then participated in the design process to develop a usable graphical user interface, by drawing icon sketches for 23 selected tasks. Similar sketches were requested for specific tasks such as family medical history, contact information, translation, addiction, required inspections, requests and applications, and nurse observations. The sketches were analyzed and redesigned into computer icons by professional designers and the research team. A second group of physicians and nurses then tested the understandability of the icons. The user interface layout was examined and evaluated by system users, followed by the system's installation. Medical personnel reported the participatory design process was interesting and believed the resulting designs would be more familiar and friendlier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Icon
  • Medical information system
  • Participatory design
  • User interface design


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