An AI system that helps medical students improve communication skills in the hospital.


for CMU MDes Interaction Studio II



Feb – May 2018



Zahin Ali
Suzanne Choi
Jeffrey Chou


I led the research synthesis process, organized the research logistics, and was responsible for systemetically consolidating research findings.

All teammates contributed to the design, launch, and documentation of research (interviews, workshop, diary study, etc.).


In-person/Remote Interview
Market Research
Affinity Diagramming
Participatory Workshop
Text-Based Diary Study



Leverage the power of AI to assist medical students, particularly in their clinical years (3rd/4th), to improve communication skills with both the medical team and the patients. 



This is an on-going project estimated to wrap up in May 2018. Information below includes all process up to the exploratory research stage (March 5th). 



See the full project log here.  


Design Process

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Scope the Research Territory

We started this project by creating a territory map to visualize areas we wish to investigate in the medical learning context. We initially put the patients at the center of this diagram for their frequent interactions with various stakeholders. 

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As we progressed our research, we continued to updated our territory map to reflect or focus area. Factors that went in to the filtering include access to research object (ex. doctors are very busy; patients feel sick/protect privacy) and technical knowledge required for furthering the topic.



Questionnaires & Interviews

To get a better understanding of the medical learning environment and AI capabilities, we started with two conventional research tools: questionnaires and interviews.

We chose these tools for two reasons:  (1) flexibility/ efficiency - medical students and doctors are very busy (2) engagement - identify passionate participants and establish relationship early on.

After the research, insights were summarized into bullet points. Jump to 02.3 Exploratory Research Synthesis for the full synthesis process.

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Literature Review + Market Analysis

We also conducted literature review and market research because we wanted to understand the recent design and technology intervention in healthcare. 

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Similar to 02.1, insights found above were summarized into bullet points. See 02.3 Exploratory Research Synthesis for the full synthesis process.



Exploratory Research: Synthesis

The goals for the synthesis were:

  • Identify the audience and learning type for generative research
  • Understand the learning motivation of chosen audience
  • Establish design criteria & principles for the design project

The synthesis process is rather rigorous: we started from a wall of "insights" (note: not "observations") from exploratory research, ran through rounds of affinity mapping, pain point sorting, and a 2x2 matrix.  At the end we developed "opportunity" and "design principles" based on the final set of insights.

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Based on the finding we were able to define the following:

  • research audience: 3rd/4th year rotation students
  • learning type: communication amongst the medical team
  • learning motivation: application to the committed medical career
  • 5 main design principles: efficiency/productivity, humanistic, career relevance, individuality, visual learning
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We also updated our "how might we" statement to reflect the above definitions.

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Exploratory + Generative Research:
Text-Based Diary Study

After we established our research audience – 3rd/4th year medical school student ("rotation" students), we developed a text-based diary study to gain insights on the communication challenges students experienced with both the medical team and patients in the hospital. The study will officially end by March 12, 2018.

We found texts-based diary (vs. physical artifacts) particularly successful for our audience because:

  • student's receive reminders in an un-intrusive way
  • researchers can gauge engagement level and adjust questions daily 
Med Learning-03.png


Generative Research: Participatory Workshop

As the text-based study provides a higher-level communication challenge throughout the weeks, we wanted to gain insights on how medical students  would revamp particular communication breakdown instances.

We decided to develop a hands-on workshop that is fun and properly guided by facilitators. Facilitators play the role of accelerating the process, confirming interpretations and metaphors, and walking participants through challenging prompts.

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Synthesis will be completed by March 7, 2018.