Cognitive Aids in Medicine

Our Faculty and Advisors

We are fortunate to have an outstanding group of faculty at Stanford who are working on the design, evaluation, and implementation of cognitive aids in medicine.

The Cognitive Aids in Medicine Group is led by the Stanford AIM Lab in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts and advisors at Stanford and beyond.

History of the Cognitive Aids in Medicine Group at Stanford

Early work in cognitive aids in medical crises was published by David Gaba, Kevin Fish and Steven Howard in their text, Crisis Management in Anesthesiology (Gaba, Fish and Howard, 1994). We gratefully acknowledge their important contributions to the field of crisis resource management.

Dr. Kyle Harrison extended their work by studying the use of cognitive aids in Malignant Hyperthermia using high-fidelity simulation (Harrison et. al., 2006). In 2005, Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison began collaboration on the development of a series of cognitive aids for management of anesthesia-based crises that were published in Dr. Chu's book, Manual of Clinical Anesthesiology (Chu and Fuller, 2011). In the Fall of 2010, Dr. Chu published the first electronic version of medical cognitive aids in the StanMed iOS application.

In January of 2011, Dr. Larry Chu presented work from the Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab (AIM Lab) on cognitive aids to Dr. Scott Klemmer's research group at the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford. The two labs quickly found mutual interest in developing interactive computer-based cognitive aids and have developed a group of computer scientists and students to work on these problems. Two Ph.D students in computer science, Jesse Ciremele and Leslie Wu are currently pursing their thesis work with Dr. Scott Klemmer and Dr. Stu Card as their research mentors. Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison are also active members of the group assisting with their research efforts. Their work has subsequently been presented at International medical informatics as well as national computer-human interaction meetings.

In the January of 2012, Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison released Crisis Code, an iOS application developed by the Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab. The application incorporated electronic cognitive aids and taught aspects of crisis resource management in the context of Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

In July 2012, Dr. Larry Chu began work, in collaboration with Dr. Kyle Harrison, on a novel new approach to cognitive checklists involving a highly pictographic approach. The genesis of the work began with the intent to make cognitive aid checklists more visually engaging, approachable and easier to use for all members of a healthcare team, including nurses and health technicians.

Static Media-based Cognitive Aids and Medical Cognition Team

Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison

Dr. Larry Chu
and Dr. Kyle Harrison lead the group's efforts in designing static media-based cognitive aids. The team also uses rapid prototyping and high-fidelity simulation to study medical cognition (how people find, understand, remember, and use medical information) in the context of medical crises. The work of this group is heavily supported by the Stanford Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab. The group's static media-based cognitive aids have been published as book chapters, laminated point-of-care cognitive aids, and computer-based static aids incorporated into educational web sites and mobile computing (iOS) applications.

Interactive Computer-based Cognitive Aids

Interactive Aid Team

Dr. Scott Klemmer and Dr. Stuart Card from the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction group are leading the group's efforts in developing dynamic interactive cognitive aids, implementing large-scale displays to enhance shared mental modeling during the management of medical crises. Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison are co-investigators on this project and are responsible for the medical direction and study of medical cognition for the project.


We are fortunate to have a international group of advisors who provide the AIM lab with medical domain knowledge and expertise to enhance the development of our cognitive aids. We gratefully acknowledge these advisors, who include:

Neil Cowie, MD (Medical College at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada), Andrea J. Fuller, MD (University of Colorado, Denver) Viji Kurup, MD (Yale University), and Christine Park, MD (Northwestern University).

Stanford Anesthesia Cognitive Aid Group

While the Stanford AIM Lab primarily develops and studies its own cognitive aids, we do collaborate with the Stanford Anesthesia Cognitive Aid Group on certain activities and group publications. Dr. Larry Chu and Dr. Kyle Harrison are members of the group which includes Dr. David Gaba and Dr. Steven Howard. Dr. Sara Goldhaber-Fiebert is also a member of the Stanford Anesthesia Cognitive Aid Group.

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