"Parents are busy, they have a lot going on in their life. Even though they have a lot of good intentions, the time between visits goes by very quickly," Kientz said.
Baby Steps encourages participation by adding social incentives. Researchers tested the system with eight families over three months. Four families were given a computer system designed strictly for medical record-keeping. The other four families used a more elaborate system with added features such as a keepsake album, pop-up reminders and e-mail alerts, tools to print or e-mail newsletters, as well as a button to create a report for the doctor's visit.
Adding sentimental functions caused parents to use the system three times more frequently, uploading three times as many pictures and videos and ultimately recording twice as many developmental milestones. Parents also reported enjoying the Baby Steps system more.
On top of the high-tech scrapbook tools, researchers built a wireless video camera with a time-lapse save function to help record events, similar to how a digital video recorder works. Parents set up the camera where their child plays, and if the child does something new, parents can press the camera's button and save footage of what just happened. Otherwise, the camera keeps rolling and footage older than 20 minutes is deleted. The videos can then be easily synchronized with a child's records.
"Kids do unpredictable things, and usually when they do these things you don't have a camera running. By the time you go and grab a camera they fall down, they're crying, or they've moved on to something else. We tried to find a way to help capture those moments," Kientz said.
Baby Steps lets parents share these videos with family and friends by e-mail or by posting to YouTube. Parents can also bring the video camera to the doctor's office.
Doctors reported that parents us
|Contact: Hannah Hickey|
University of Washington