2:20 - 2:40 pmSaturday, September 6
LK 102
Web-enriched medical counseling over the phone
LK 102
Web-enriched medical counseling over the phone
PhD Student, Linnaeus University
BackgroundIn Sweden there is a national telephone based service called 1177, through which members of the public can receive medical counseling from a registered nurse. The same  organization hosts an... Read more



In Sweden there is a national telephone based service called 1177, through which members of the public can receive medical counseling from a registered nurse. The same  organization hosts an extensive web-based collection of medical articles describing various medical conditions in easy to understand language. The telephone counselors often use the material on this site to provide justification, corroboration or context, guiding patients blind using verbal commands - go to this page … can you see the link at the top... and so on. The method is inefficient due to the inherent imprecision in the verbal coordination involved. We have addressed this evident need for co-ordination and created a complementary system that allows the nurse to add precision by remotely controlling what pages are shown and using highlighting tools to direct the patient's attention.


The implemented service allows the nurse and patient to establish a shared browsing session. The nurse controls what page is shown and uses highlighting tools to mark out sections of interest, thereby selectively and dynamically directing the patient's attention. The telephone remains the primary channel of communication with the shared view providing content and context. The service is installation-free and fully cloud-based and is activated by having the patient enter a simple url in their browser of choice. Special attention has been given to mobile devices as they are quickly becoming the device of choice for the type of ad hoc interaction that medical advice-giving often is. The initial page is always the starting page at 1177.se, but the nurse can choose to show any page - and is here not limited to the 1177 site, but can browse to any page available on the open web. The service will be tested in a series of experiments together with the 1177 organization using eye-tracking data to investigate the way the highlighting features direct the attention of the patient subject and survey data to evaluate perceived and real usefulness, the latter by investigating improvements in understanding and retention compared to telephone-only advice-giving.


By the time of the conference two controlled studies will have been performed with student participants in the role of patients and registered nurses from the 1177 service in the role of advice-givers (study 1: N=14; study 2: N=30). The intention is to start testing with real patients during late autumn and experiences from the preparatory work leading up to this will also be presented.


The telephone remains a reliable, ubiquitous, trusted and easy to use tool for voice-based communication. By pairing it with a shared browsing utility we can offer patients a richer counseling experience with an elevated level of expressiveness. Not all questions patients pose would require it, but for those that benefit from a bit more content, a bit more context or a bit more precision it can make a real difference. It simply presents an extra option, allowing more issues to be resolved over the telephone, saving time and resources for all involved.

Martin Östlund is a lecturer and PhD student at Linnaeus University. He teaches classes in user interface design and human-computer interaction as well as graphical design. Formally head of the development department at the IT unit at University of Kalmar and lead teacher for the programming subject at the systems developer program at University of Kalmar, he has a solid background and undiminished interest in systems development (process and content) and programming practices.

Martin Östlund is affiliated to the eHealth Institute since 2003 and has worked on various project within the domain of eHealth. Examples include 3D/VR-related projects such as Virtual Labour Lab and The Virtual Pharmacy and the SUVevaluation method used by the eHealth Institute (for which he is one of the co-writers). Martin Östlund was Project Director for Kalmar VR Centre 2004-2008.

More recent research interests are in the field of web architecture and social interaction services with special interest for advice-giving services within the field of medicine and healthcare. Martin Östlund leads the Social Layer project whose ambition is to develop a web-based framework for separation of content and social interaction. A series of proof-of-concept applications have been created in the field of medical advice-giving.

Current projects include a collaboration with the oncology department at Kalmar County Hospital on the use of computer tablets for patient-health provider communication, and methods for flexible learning in the Expert Competence project.

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