Evidence-Based Design and Evaluation of a Whole Genome Sequencing Clinical Report for the Reference Microbiology Laboratory

Anamaria Crisan, Jennifer L. Gardy, Tamara Munzner
Published in PeerJ (peer reviewed)
doi | Report LaTex Template | code | ASM NGS 2017 presentation


Background: Microbial genome sequencing is now being routinely used in many clinical and public health laboratories. Understanding how to report complex genomic test results to stakeholders who may have varying familiarity with genomics—including clinicians, laboratorians, epidemiologists, and researchers—is critical to the successful and sustainable implementation of this new technology; however, there are no evidence-based guidelines for designing such a report in the pathogen genomics domain. Here, we describe an iterative, human-centered approach to creating a report template for communicating tuberculosis (TB) genomic test results.

Methods: We used Design Study Methodology—a human centered approach drawn from the information visualization domain—to redesign an existing clinical report. We used expert consults and an online questionnaire to discover various stakeholders’ needs around the types of data and tasks related to TB that they encounter in their daily workflow. We also evaluated their perceptions of and familiarity with genomic data, as well as its utility at various clinical decision points. These data shaped the design of multiple prototype reports that were compared against the existing report through a second online survey, with the resulting qualitative and quantitative data informing the final, redesigned, report.

Results: We recruited 78 participants, 65 of whom were clinicians, nurses, laboratorians, researchers, and epidemiologists involved in TB diagnosis, treatment, and/or surveillance. Our first survey indicated that participants were largely enthusiastic about genomic data, with the majority agreeing on its utility for certain TB diagnosis and treatment tasks and many reporting some confidence in their ability to interpret this type of data (between 58.8% and 94.1%, depending on the specific data type). When we compared our four prototype reports against the existing design, we found that for the majority (86.7%) of design comparisons, participants preferred the alternative prototype designs over the existing version, and that both clinicians and non-clinicians expressed similar design preferences. Participants showed clearer design preferences when asked to compare individual design elements versus entire reports. Both the quantitative and qualitative data informed the design of a revised report, available online as a LaTeX template.

Conclusions We show how a human-centered design approach integrating quantitative and qualitative feedback can be used to design an alternative report for representing complex microbial genomic data. We suggest experimental and design guidelines to inform future design studies in the bioinformatics and microbial genomics domains, and suggest that this type of mixed-methods study is important to facilitate the successful translation of pathogen genomics in the clinic, not only for clinical reports but also more complex bioinformatics data visualization software.