Blogs, cameras, smart phones…all these things are seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, and some of us can’t even imagine a life without these technologies. Which is why it was such a shock when we found out we couldn’t use these tools in our digital journaling study. The proposed research method required members to use their smart phones to take photos and write blog postings about their experience in our medical buildings. But if you stop and think, it completely makes sense as to why this raises red flags. There are many HIPPA laws specifying what can and cannot be photographed in a medical center.
This is what I LEARNED from some really smart legal and compliance folks:
Our members are not allowed to take pictures within the medical centers, because they can easily capture PHI and violate HIPPA rules. We do not, and cannot, afford that!
Personal phones are not ‘secure devices’, so even if a member had permission to take photos, the photos are not protected.
Ownership of photos become fuzzy. All photos and videos taken in the medical centers must belong to Kaiser Permanente, so that they are not used inappropriately, or end up on the scary internet. In fact, new legal forms would need to be created to ensure it is Kaiser property.
Digital journaling as a research method has been around for a long time, and companies like Nike and Pepsi have already been using this long ago. But since we are the first ones to attempt digital journaling within Kaiser Permanente, we are in fact TRAILBLAZING!
I spent an entire morning learning all that I can about MindSwarms. Thanks Ryan, for sharing your knowledge! In short, MindSwarms is a research method that captures the full potential of web cams. Each MindSwarms study consist of seven questions, and each answer is a one minute web cam recording from the participant. Here are some examples of a video responses. (This is not from Project RAD, due to PHI).
In my experience, I’ve found many ADVANTAGES to using this methodology:
Accessible to participants. Since this is not a live interview, participants can record answers on their own time and at the location of their choice
To-the-point answers, because the participant only has one minute to record their response
Easily shareable data. MindSwarms website has built in tools for easy sharing of video responses, which is great for teamwork.
Artifacts. Since all the responses are in digital format, they can easily be turned into rich insight videos. Well, not TOO easily…you do need some video editing talent ;)
Though there are many pros, here are some CHALLENGES I came across in this experience:
"Is this the right question for a one minute response?" This was the question I kept asking myself. Sometimes when a question is too broad or abstract, it seems harder to get rich responses.
Choosing the right participant. I found that the one minute responses are golden when the participant has really rich personal experiences. For example, in our study, the participants with chronic medical conditions were able share a lot of insightful personal stories.
I like to think that I am a bit wiser now…here are some of my LEARNINGS:
MindSwarms shines when the participant has really concrete and personal experiences to share.
Layer MindSwarms with another method. Want to know if a participant will be a good candidate for an in-home ethnography? Screen them with a MindSwarms study first! You can also use this in conjunction with expert interviews, etc.
Don’t wait to watch the responses! It is beneficial to monitor the responses as they come in, so you can edit/tweak the questions if they are not yielding the responses you want.
In this fascinating book, New Yorker business columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea: Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant–better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.
With boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, behavioral economics, artificial intelligence, military history, and politics to show how this simple idea offers important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, run our companies, and think about our world.