An Information Flow Analysis of a Distributed Information System for Space Medical Support

Author: Tao Zhang, MD, MS

Primary Advisor:

Committee Members:  Gina Aranzamendez, BSN (co-author); Susan Rinkus, RN, BSN, MS (co-author); Yang Gong, MD, MS (co-author); Jamie Rukab, MS (co-author); Kathy A. Johnson-Throop, PhD (co-author); Jane T. Malin, PhD (co-author); Jiajie Zhang, PhD (co-author)

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

In this study, we applied the methodology grounded in human-centered distributed cognition principles to the information flow analysis of a highly intensive, distributed and complex environment - the Biomedical Engineer (BME) console system at NASA Johnson Space Center. This system contains disparate human and artificial agents and artifacts. Users and tasks of this system were analyzed. An ethnographic study and a detailed communication pattern analysis were conducted to gain deeper insight and better understanding of the information flow patterns and the organizational memory of the current BME console system. From this study, we identified some major problems and offered recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this system. We believe that this analysis methodology can be used in other distributed information systems, such as a healthcare environment.