Designing Boundary Objects: Investigating the Affiliations of Medical Identification Jewellery

Alex Haagaard


This paper reports on design work-in-progress that, to date, has focused on the
affiliation of medical identification jewellery with paramedics as the central user group.
In doing so, we use Suchman's notion of the affiliative object to reframe medical
identification jewellery as a compound epistemic object with affiliations to paramedics in
the province of Ontario, Canada. The paper begins by providing background including
the methods used to assess the use of medical identification jewellery. There follows a
section on how the findings from fieldwork were used to develop a first iteration of
design recommendations. A compliancy table then appends discussion of key findings
and design recommendations. Three design concepts were found to be particularly
successful in focus groups of participant paramedics. These were modified and
evaluated in response to the feedback obtained. One concept was ultimately rejected,
while the other two underwent redesign. The two successful concepts were developed
into high-fidelity prototypes. The design concepts presented here are observably
original and not copies of previous designs. As affiliative objects, they aim to facilitate
diagnostic work in emergency response. In doing so, they follow Lucy Suchman's
(2005: 381) injunction that "the constitution of objects is a strategic resource in the
alignment of professional identities and organizational positionings."

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