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NVivo helps Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts to achieve efficient team research

Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts is breaking new ground with its benchmarking studies that use eye tracking technology to evaluate medical information systems. Using NVivo 9 and teamwork solution NVivo Server 9, senior academic researchers and undergraduate students were able to analyze qualitative and quantitative data collaboratively, to identify differences in the usefulness of medical information systems. The team discovered that Google is, for certain tasks, a more efficient way of finding an appropriate doctor than specialized healthcare databases and portals.


Using NVivo 9 and NVivo Server 9, Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts was able to:

  • Significantly reduce the time taken to complete the research project, from an expected minimum of five months to just three months
  • Establish efficient teamwork processes for researchers working across campuses and departments
  • Directly integrate students into the research projects of senior academics, improving their practical skills
  • Get to research outcomes faster and increase the number of reports and papers published by the University
  • Accurately and efficiently document the research process and streamline administrative tasks
  • Ensure security of research data
  • Analyze large amounts of data including videos and memos

The importance of evaluating medical information systems

Online services play an increasingly important role in healthcare. More and more people are now using the web to interact with healthcare products and services, and share information about their experiences.

According to Dr Uwe Sander, Professor of Medical Information Management at Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts, people have high expectations of medical information management systems, and the ease with which people can interact with these online tools and services is of the utmost importance.

This is why Dr Sander initiated a benchmarking study to evaluate online healthcare services and information management systems. Using eye tracking technology as an integral part of the experiments, Dr Sander and his team of 14 undergraduate students used NVivo 9 with collaboration solution NVivo Server 9, to identify differences in the usefulness of medical information systems and rank them by efficiency. 

Benchmarking user experience with eye tracking technology

Eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze (“where we are looking”) or the motion of an eye relative to the head. An eye tracker is a device for measuring people’s eye positions and eye movement when they review or read certain media. Eye tracking technology is well established and widely used for usability testing of information systems such as websites, videos and text documents.

Dr Sander and his team established a workflow to allow evaluation of user experiences of websites using eye tracking video data. This workflow was tested in a three month project that benchmarked websites that allow the public to rate their physician.

Dr Sander comments, “Benchmarking experiments to rank information systems are very rare because measurable analysis of user experience is often difficult to obtain.”

“However, for the evaluation of medical information systems, benchmarking and objective comparisons of the systems’ quality are of major importance. This is because users typically expect a high quality of information presentation when working with medical information systems.”

"NVivo Server 9 made it possible for six researchers to access the software at the same time and all make their updates in real time, which allowed parallel research work at different universities and campuses."

Dr and Prof. Uwe Sander, Professor of Medical Information Management
Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts

For this particular project, Dr Sander chose to use QSR International’s qualitative data analysis software NVivo 9 teamed with NVivo Server 9 to facilitate research teamwork. Eye tracking technology from SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI) including SMI Experiment CenterTM and SMI BegazeTM was used to acquire the data. NVivo was used to organize, categorize and analyze the acquired information and results were exported into IBM SPSS Statistics (Version 18) to conduct the final evaluations.

The project was also supported by E-CLIC (European Collaborative Innovation Centers), an EU-InterReg 4b project aiming to establish ‘New Business’ based on the availability of broadband.

Project outcomes included identifying major differences regarding the usefulness of the tested physician rating sites. Most astonishingly, for certain tasks, using the search engine Google proved to be a more efficient way of finding an appropriate doctor than using specialized healthcare portals.

Employing new technology to improve experience and efficiency

This project involved analysis of video data by multiple researchers at different locations, including Dr Martin Emmert, Junior Professor of Health Management from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, so Dr Sander recommended that the University install NVivo Server 9. NVivo Server 9 enables NVivo 9 projects to be managed centrally, so teams can work together in the same project at the same time. He and many other senior researchers at the University were familiar with and impressed by NVivo software from past research, so were keen to explore NVivo Server 9 to facilitate seamless collaboration and coordinated teamwork.

The deployment of NVivo Server 9 was also a way for Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts to meet its broad objective of ensuring staff and students have access to the latest technology to both improve the education experience and increase the efficiency of research projects. More researchers working together using NVivo Server 9 means projects can be completed faster, can involve students on a practical level and can leverage broad knowledge from across the institution.

More collaborative research and finding insights faster

Dr Sander and his team found the number one benefit of using NVivo Server 9 for this project was the ease of sharing information. Instead of working individually on analysis then merging the data and results manually, “Our multiple registered users accessed the Server at the same time so we could see each other’s progress in real time and apply changes immediately – which was a huge advantage,” comments Dr Sander. 

"Using NVivo Server 9 definitely made the research process faster. Where normally a user experience study like this one would have taken at least five months, in this case it was only three months from start to publication of the research report.”

Dr and Prof. Uwe Sander, Professor of Medical Information Management
Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts

In addition to the advantages of superior teamwork and collaboration, Dr Sander also found that the research process was more rigorously documented using NVivo Server 9. He comments, “It was easy to import videos and video transcripts of the benchmarking experiments and also to write and code annotations against them, which helped us develop a clear picture of the user experience.”

An efficient research process

As for Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts’ plans for the future, Dr Sander explains, “We look forward to working in NVivo Server 9 for future projects and would certainly recommend it to other universities that are looking to involve their undergraduate students in projects – because it’s a great way to directly integrate them into qualitative research.”

“With the use of NVivo Server 9 for this one project we have actually established an efficient process for the University which facilitates genuine collaborative research – for students and senior academics alike, and even across campuses and departments.”

He concludes, “It is very pleasing to know that the collaborative technology used for this research project and the protocols it has established have contributed positively to the University’s objectives of providing practical experience to students in delivering valuable research outcomes.”

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