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Health Care Design Conference - 2013 Boston

Conference Press

Designers Are Awesome: a Health Educator’s Perspective of the 2013 Healthcare Experience Conference

By Tara Rice, Manager, Health Educator

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It was my first time at the Healthcare Experience Conference, and having typically attended clinical conferences in the past, I was blown away by the level of passion and enthusiasm of the attendees (an interesting mix of designers, researchers, and other “healthcare disrupters”). Emerging from the dynamic mix of presentations were 2 key themes that kept resurfacing throughout the conference: Mindfulness, and designing for behavior change.


Since I have a background in integrative medicine, my ears tend to perk up whenever I hear people use words like mindfulness and centeredness outside a yoga or meditation class. Not only were these words mentioned, but they kept reappearing throughout the day:

  • Neema Morajevi, director of the Calming Lab at Stanford, spoke about strategies to embed mindfulness into devices that already pervade our lives
  • Jacob Reider, MD, chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, focused on the need for providers to feel “centered” themselves before they can truly help others
  • Jan Bruce of meQuilibrium boldly declared that “stress is the new fat” and shared how stress is correlated with obesity

Although I’m thrilled that these topics are being valued and promoted, what does it say about our healthcare system that I had to go to a “design” conference to hear about topics related to prevention and wellness? I think it says that designers are awesome, and it reinforces the importance of making design strategy a critical part of planning for patient-centered educational programs.

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