Exploring LifeLines to Visualize Patient Records

TitleExploring LifeLines to Visualize Patient Records
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsPlaisant C, Rose A
JournalTechnical Reports of the Computer Science Department
Date Published1998/10/15/
KeywordsTechnical Report

LifeLines provide a general visualization environment for personalhistories. We explored its use for medical patient records. A one
screen overview of the record using timelines provides direct access to
the data. Problems, hospitalization and medications can be represented
as horizontal lines, while icons represent discrete events such as
physician consultations (and progress notes) or tests. Line color and
thickness can illustrate relationships or significance. Techniques are
described to display large records. Rescaling tools and filters allow
users to focus on part of the information, revealing more details.
Computerized medical records pose tremendous problems to system
developers. Infrastructure and privacy issues need to be resolved
before physicians can even start using the records. Non-intrusive
hardware is required for physicians to do their work (i.e. interview
patients) away from their desk and cumbersome workstations. But all
the efforts to solve those problems will only succeed if appropriate
attention is also given to the user interface design [1][8]. Long
lists to scroll, clumsy search, endless menus and lengthy dialogs will
lead to user rejection. But techniques are being developed to
summarize, filter and present large amount of information, leading us
to believe that rapid access to needed data is possible with careful
While more attention is now put on developing standards for gathering
medical records we found that very little effort had been made to
design appropriate visualization and navigation techniques to present
and explore personal history records. An intuitive approach to
visualizing histories is to use graphical time series. The consistent,
linear time scale allows comparisons and relations between the
quantities displayed. Data can be graphed on the timeline to show time
series of quantitative data. Highly interactive interfaces turn the
display into a meaningfully structured menu with direct access to the
data needed to review a problem or conduct the diagnosis.
Also cross-referenced as CAR-TR-819