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Health Care Design Conference - 2013 Boston

Conference Press

HxD Conference: People First, Patients Second

Sara Koo, Student, School of Visual Arts

Article Published on April 3, 2012 -

The focus of the conference centered mainly on behavioral design and big data–Themes that aren’t surprising given the trajectory of wellness apps of late. In fact, the two themes go hand-in-hand: A growing accessibility of big data should beget a good look at behavioral design, and well-crafted behavioral design should beget meaningful use of data.

But I want to push the conversation in yet another direction. While the main conference sessions focused on the aforementioned themes, the case studies presented in an adjacent ballroom spoke of analog applications for experience design.

Jessical Floeh, founder of Hanky Pancreas, talked about her series of fashionable products for wearable diabetes technologies–Could a social model be a more effective way to increase disease management? Patients are people and yet, many products and solutions are designed through a clinical lens, sufficing medical parameters but often forgetting the person at the center of the experience.

David Rose, founder of GlowCaps and instructor at MIT Media Lab, challenged the growing obsession with everything mobile. Mobile apps have limitations and perhaps, the opportunity is to look at everyday objects surrounding us instead. Furniture, for example, has incredible advantages over mobility, including durability, the affordance of natural gestures, and glanceability. Case in point: The energy clock could tell time in addition to our energy consumption habits. So then, how could we “appify” everyday objects to serve our needs, particularly in healthcare?

The patient experience is evolving in radical ways and the focus on big data is certainly an influential factor in this shift. But the more significant takeaway from my conference experience is that data is a medium, and our opportunities for healthcare delivery actually lie in considering our audience as people first and patients second.

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