Research Scientist I
- Center for Advanced Communications Policy
Sarah Farmer is a Research Scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the project manager of Georgia Tech’s HomeLab. With a background in psychology and statistics, she has been executing research related to human performance and successful aging since 2012. She is a co-investigator in the RERC TechSAge research to assess user needs for home-based activities necessary to integrate effective technology into the lives of older adults with disabilities. As project manager of HomeLab, which is a home health test bed database of older adults in the metro-Atlanta area, Sarah has executed in-home studies that evaluated technologies that contribute to successful aging, including activity trackers, medication adherence technologies, and personal emergency response systems. She is the current technical lead for the evaluation of potential FirstNet first responder technologies in a novel virtual reality usability testing environment being constructed at GTRI. She led data collection efforts for several human performance research projects including a project designed to model fatigue during manual labor and a project designed to model human hand performance.
- Pivoting an MCI Empowerment Program to Online Engagement
In: Proceedings of the ACM Human-Computer Interaction [Peer Reviewed]
Date: January 2022
In the Spring of 2020, closures and safe distancing orders swept much of the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper presents a case study of pivoting an in-person empowerment program focused on lifestyle interventions for people newly diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to an online program. Working as rapidly as possible to sustain participant engagement, our design decisions and subsequent iterations point to initial constraints in telehealth capabilities, as well as learning on the fly as new capabilities and requirements emerged. We present the discovery of emergent practices by family members and healthcare providers to meet the new requirements for successful online engagement. For some participants, the online program led to greater opportunities for empowerment while others were hampered by the lack of in-person program support. Providers experienced a sharp learning curve and likewise missed the benefits of in-person interaction, but also discovered new benefits of online collaboration. This work lends insights and potential new avenues for understanding how lifestyle interventions can empower people with MCI and the role of technology in that process.
- Personas, the Pandemic, and Inclusive, Synthetic, Smart City Planning
In: International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR) [Peer Reviewed]
In the era of COVID-19 planners, and more broadly, city administrators and policy makers, have learned to cope with the accelerated pace of change, the broad band of uncertainty, and the need for rapid decision-making strategies. This, in the context of ever more diverse communities and greater reliance on technology as an effective response to the social and public health challenges of the pandemic. “Smart” cities harness distributed communication and service delivery technologies to enhance the quality of urban life. The voices of citizens from marginalized and under-served populations, such as older adults and people with disabilities, are vital to the development of inclusive smart cities. In this paper expanding an inclusive policy design approach is proposed that uses ‘personas’ to actively engage those citizens.
- Lessons Learned from Developing a MCI Virtual Empowerment Program
In: Proceedings of The International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care [Peer Reviewed]
Date: July 2021
In the Spring of 2020, COVID-19 closures and safe distancing orders required healthcare programs across the US to cease in-person treatment. This paper presents a case study of rapidly pivoting a novel, 12-month comprehensive clinical lifestyle program combining education, occupational therapy, cognitive training, and social interaction to an online application-based education program. The focus of the program is empowerment research for people newly diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and their care partners, and is conducted by the Emory Brain Health Center. Georgia Tech developed an education application (named MyCEP) for use with our MCI and care partner population combining off-the-shelf services and customized user interfaces. We used an iterative design and development process, testing our application with our end users and our treatment providers, and made updates based on our discovery of the need for new capabilities and requirements. We present the discovery of emergent practices by family members and healthcare providers to meet the new requirements for successful virtual engagement.
- Multidisciplinary assessment of the Abbott BinaxNOW SARS-CoV-2 point-of-care antigen test in the context of emerging viral variants and self-administration.
In: Scientific Reports [Peer Reviewed]
Date: July 2021
While there has been significant progress in the development of rapid COVID-19 diagnostics, as the pandemic unfolds, new challenges have emerged, including whether these technologies can reliably detect the more infectious variants of concern and be viably deployed in non-clinical settings as “self-tests”. Multidisciplinary evaluation of the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card (BinaxNOW, a widely used rapid antigen test, included limit of detection, variant detection, test performance across different age-groups, and usability with self/caregiver-administration. While BinaxNOW detected the highly infectious variants, B.1.1.7 (Alpha) first identified in the UK, B.1.351 (Beta) first identified in South Africa, P.1 (Gamma) first identified in Brazil, B.1.617.2 (Delta) first identified in India and B.1.2, a non-VOC, test sensitivity decreased with decreasing viral loads. Moreover, BinaxNOW sensitivity trended lower when devices were performed by patients/caregivers themselves compared to trained clinical staff, despite universally high usability assessments following self/caregiver-administration among different age groups. Overall, these data indicate that while BinaxNOW accurately detects the new viral variants, as rapid COVID-19 tests enter the home, their already lower sensitivities compared to RT-PCR may decrease even more due to user error.
- The RADx Tech Test Verification Core and the ACME POCT in the Evaluation of COVID-19 Testing Devices: A Model for Progress and Change
In: IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, Vol. 2 [Peer Reviewed]
Date: April 2021
The paper describes the development of the RADx Test Tech Verification Core as part of the NIH-funded Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative. RADx was launched to speed up the development, commercialization, and implementation of COVID-19 diagnostic technologies. The Test Verification Core is a multi-institutional and transdisciplinary team charged with laboratory and clinical evaluation of technologies; providing regulatory expertise to speed approval and distribution of technologies; usability evaluations from the perspective of the end user; and engineering assessments to determine robustness of design.