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Leveraging design and technology to transform the health experience | April 5-6, 2016 | Boston, MA

Patient Knows Best: At Stanford’s new cancer center, patients interview every new hire

Originally published on Quartz.com


Sometimes it’s the patient, not the doctor or hospital administrator, who knows best. Stanford Cancer Center South Bay has espoused this ethos in every aspect of its development, including having patients conduct interviews for hiring.

As Katie Abbott, the senior program manager for business operations, puts it: “Being in healthcare as a clinician or an administrator doesn’t mean you’re saved from being a patient. But we still become blind a bit and miss things—it really takes those eyes of other folks to help us design better.”

The center, which opened in June, employs patients and family members from Stanford’s Palo Alto center, as well as a local community cancer practice, on its 20-person Patient and Family Advisory Council in this process. The center was adamant about having 100% of staff interviewed by a patient, a family member, and someone from the non-hiring leadership team. Over the course of six months, the committee hired 250 people for the center and used this process on each one (except doctors)—from nurses to the cafe staff. The hiring managers used direct quotes from candidates’ interviews to assist in their decision.

Abbott said patients ask completely different questions of prospective staff and have provided crucial perspective for the center to carry out its mission to be patient-centric. The Affordable Care Act has changed financial models in healthcare, making patients the direct consumer. And to cater to this market, more facilities in the US are being designed to focus on patient experience and quality of care.

“You can’t necessarily measure” the effect the patients’ involvement has had, Abbott said. “But when you walk in the building, it just feels different.”

I talked to Abbott at the Health Experience Refactored Conference in Boston about this approach. Here’s how patients and family became an integral part of the interview process, one that’s still in place, as explained by Abbott. (The following is edited for length and clarity.)

They made the process nimble. In the beginning, [the hospital staff] was really reluctant to participate. They thought this was going to be an additional step that would slow down the hiring process and we might be losing our best candidates. So we set up a framework so that wouldn’t happen. We made ourselves very available so if somebody said, ‘I need this interview to be done this afternoon,’ we were able to be nimble enough to do that.'”

They provided adequate training. We did train our patients and families first so they went through an interview bootcamp with HR. They learned what to ask, what not to ask. You can ask about experience; no, you cannot ask if somebody is pregnant right now. That also helped the patients and families feel more comfortable. Some of them were executives themselves and had done interviews before. Most of them who participated had never done an interview in the past. Part of it was getting them comfortable and confident and up to speed. The other piece was being able to use a few of the quick wins [in using this process] and first interviews as a platform to show just how beneficial their perspective was.”

Patients and family members became the deciding factor. In the beginning, managers sent us their top candidates and it was very clear they’d made the decisions of who they wanted to hire. We would send them the feedback: 90% of the time, patients and families were so enthusiastic about having these folks join the team. But for that other 10%, if the interview didn’t go as well or there were just quotes that these candidates had said that didn’t quite feel patient- and family-centered, we would send that feedback to the hiring managers. They would say ‘Oh my gosh, I knew this person technically was great, they could do the job and even from a human-centered standpoint, I thought they were great, but there was something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.’ Oftentimes the feedback we would capture was solidifying what their gut already had told them. They were a great candidate, but something just wasn’t quite a great fit. As we moved on, we found that people were actually sending us their top two or three candidates and they would say, ‘They’re all great, I need the Patient and Family Advisory Council to pick.'”

They learned from the questions their patients asked. “One of my favorites, and this was an interesting one for folks to answer, was ‘What’s one thing about the culture where you work now that you’d like to bring to the new cancer center and what’s one thing that you’d like to leave behind?’ It made candidates a little uneasy, but it gave them permission to talk about the things they were proud of and they hoped to bring to the new site, and things that were big opportunities for us to problem-solve together. That was one of my favorite questions that our volunteers asked, and now I ask in almost all of my interviews as well.”

If candidates weren’t comfortable being interviewed by patients, they probably weren’t a great fit. “Some of them even said things like, ‘I don’t really like being around patients.’ They may have been a lab tech in the back, but to me, every vial of blood, every specimen that comes through is a patient. That candidate may have never admitted that to the hiring manager. When they were able to say that in front of the patients and us [staff, it was clear that] this wasn’t a great fit for this person either. They need to be excited about the culture that we’re trying to build in order for them to be excited about their role as well.”


Originally published on MedTechBoston.com

Last week during her keynote at the HXR conference in the Boston Seaport, Mad*Pow Founder and Chief Experience Officer Amy Cueva announced the agency’s newest healthcare initiative: The Center for Health Experience Design. MIT’s Hacking Medicine, as well as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have already signed on as clients.

MedTech Boston sat down with the Center’s director, Adam Connor, VP of organizational design at Mad*Pow and co-author of “Discussing Design: Improving Communication & Collaboration Through Critique” to discuss the announcement.

The Center, which will be headquartered at the Mad*Pow offices in Boston, will provide coaching, design support, and training to various healthcare organizations around the country on a membership model. “Our mission to help all of these organizations increase their own capacity and maturity for design and innovation,” says Connor.

One of the ways in which the Center will increase capacity for design is by fostering collaboration between different departments within an organization. The Center will also help organizations tackle more general problems, like building awareness for design, developing initiatives around a particular public health problem, or growing an innovation team.

Mad*Pow has a variety of design skill sets that they can leverage depending on the needs of each clients, including organizational design, design strategy, motivational design, experience design and visual design. Mad*Pow aims to provide design support that will augment an organization’s own skill sets. “Healthcare organizations might have a challenge, know the solution, but not know how to make the solution work because they don’t have designers,” says Connors. “We can provide the tactical arm.”

The Center also has plans to hold an annual summit. “The main focus of all of this is to get people and organizations connecting,” explains Connor. “We’re trying to get people from the provider side of the ecosystem, the payer side and device makers in the same room talking about similar topics, sharing their experiences, and finding ways to work together.”

Technology's role as providers work to reinvent primary care models

Originally published on MobiHealthNews.com

While large hospitals and health systems launch many of the pilots and implementations of digital health in their specialist care wings, primary care is still the first step on most patients' healthcare journeys. And the same move to value based care that is creating opportunities for so many health tech companies, can place an undue burden on independent primary care providers.

“If you want to go down the risk contract road you need upfront capital. You need a large enough panel to be able to distribute risk. And often what you’re going to have to do is, you’re going to have to sell yourself off or get into some arrangement with the health system down the street. So you’re seeing a lot of consolidation in the market,” Ankit Patel, vice president of provider alignment at Clover Health said at HxR 2016 yesterday. “A lot of those don’t go really well.”

At the conference, held in Boston this week, representatives from a number of different organizations with new takes on primary care spoke about the role they’re stepping up to fill in an emerging healthcare system. The roster included Clover, a health insurer that works closely with providers; direct primary care providers Iora Health and MedLion; hospitals Massachusetts General and Dartmouth-Hitchcock; and Walmart, which recently launched expanded clinic services that offer many primary care services.

Patel explained Clover’s presence as the sole payer on the panel by arguing that from his perspective, insurers are in the best position to make sure primary care providers have access to all the data about their patients.

“Part of the reason we’re an insurance company, is it’s one of the few institutions that quickly and rapidly has the capacity to give you a 360 degree view of a patient’s healthcare,” he said. “Because everyone wants to get paid and we’re getting charts and bills from the entire health system. Our goal is to partner with primary care physicians and give them a full view into the patient’s clinical background: all the prescription history [and] a problem list. So every time a patient shows up the doctor has a sense of all the other things that are happening behind the scenes that they might not be aware of... the patient just happens to be in there for a 15-minute visit because they have the flu.”

Many of these new models spring out of the trend towards high deductible health plans that make consumers more responsible for their own healthcare costs. For instance, Walmart Chief Medical Officer Daniel Stein said that the retail giant added its Walmart Care Clinic because some of their customers, not to mention employees, didn’t really have access to healthcare.

“The reason we expanded our scope of service is because that’s where the need was,” he said. “When we talked to our customers, our associates, that’s where their access and affordability problems are. … We’re particularly interested in three groups: the uninsured, the underinsured — Americans in high deductible health plans who don’t have the savings to pay that deductible, so they’re acting like they’re uninsured, and Medicaid members, who have insurance but they don’t have access. … A typical story for us is the patient who comes in with a bag of medications, all of which are empty, and says ‘I know I have hypothyroidism. It used to be managed. I can afford the medications, but I can’t afford the doctor’s visit.’”

Iora Health and MedLion were both founded, in part, on the theory that eliminating fee for service on the primary care level can save money, and the best way to do that is to eschew insurance entirely at the primary care level and charge a flat fee, either to patients or to their employers.

“Today we need insurance for everything, for primary care and for catastrophic care,” MedLion CEO Samir Qamar said. “But that’s not what insurance was designed for. By definition, insurance is risk management for rare and expensive events, period. You don’t need insurance for a $5 sinus event, you don’t need insurance for your aspirin. But it’s become practice to claim insurance for those things.”

Both MedLion and Iora use technology to enable cost savings: Qamar spoke about telemedicine, while Iora VP Clinical Development Andrew Schutzbank described their inhouse EHR and patient management software, named Chirp.

“The idea is it’s a passive record to guide you to do the right things without pushing or prompting you while you’re taking care of patients,” Schutzbank said. 

Later in the session he described the difficulties of creating a software that gives doctors exactly the information they need when they need it. 

“Medicine’s a messy business,” Schutzbank said. “If you ever talk to any doctor and ask them what they want to see, they want to see everything at once. They don’t really, they just don’t know what they want to see. It’s little things. It’s a million data points that are hard for a machine to capture today. The reason we still use notes is that medicine is still an incredibly story-driven business.”

Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Director of Remote Medical Sensing Nate Larson and Director of Clinical Integration for Remote Medical Sensing Justin Montgomery talked about the hospital’s ImagineCare program which uses wearables like the Microsoft Band and analytic software to track and manage patients’ health. ImagineCare combines wellness-driven behavior change programs with triage programs that help people get quick access to healthcare.

“ImagineCare builds off of the idea that it’s not just technology that will solve these problems, but it’s actually the human touch,” Montgomery said. “So we think of technology as a way to get the barriers out of place so people can interact with their health coaches, consumers of their health.”

Perhaps the most poignant comment on the relationship between technology and delivery models came from MedLion’s Qamar, who said that technology is valuable in making new care models work, but wasn’t a replacement for new models of care.

“I look at the system and I look at the technology companies trying to create solutions for our broken system,” he said. “To me it’s akin to, if you have a car and the axle is broken, changing the oil and adding a new coat of paint isn’t going to help. You need a new vehicle for delivery.”

RWJF, Boston Children's combat mental health's "innovation gap"

Originally published on MobiHealthNews.com

Innovation seems to be slower to come to the mental health field than other areas of medicine, and it’s not just limited to digital health innovation. At a panel at the HxR event in Boston yesterday, a number of experts questioned why that is and shared some aspects of mobile mental health apps they’re developing. 

“Over a 10-year period of time, $9.1 billion went into oncology, while 0.9 billion, one tenth, went into biotech for psychiatric disorders,” Brian Mullen, an Innovation Strategy Manager at Brigham Innovation Hub and founder and CEO of Therapeutic Systems, said at the panel. “But we all know that mental health is a much, much bigger problem than all the cancers combined. It’s not even close. Yet we’re not investing any money into innovation to solve that problem. … We have a major innovation gap. And then when we try to do innovation, I would say it’s superficial right now. There are over 3,000 mental health apps, but only about 0.3 percent are evidence-based. We’re taking CBT and putting it into an app and saying ‘Look, I was innovative.’ I don’t know about that.”

Dr. Matt Keener, CEO of BlackBird Health, drew attention to another difference between mental health and other fields: while other fields are diving deeper and deeper into the causes of diseases, mental health is still preoccupied with treating symptoms.

“All of psychiatry, DSM 5, ICD10, you name it, all of it is based on symptoms,” he said. “Medicine isn’t treating wet cough or dry cough anymore, but psychiatry is. Treatment comes once you know what the pathogenesis is. We’re not even there yet. That’s the bad news.”

But the other two speakers both described app-based interventions they’re working on to start to change that status quo. Dr. Kimberly O’Brien, an Assistant Professor at Simmons School of Social Work with a joint appointment at Harvard Medical School as an Instructor in Psychiatry, described a projectcalled Crisis Care being piloted at Boston Children’s hospital.

“Effective communication may be the key to preventing suicide among adolescents,” O’Brien said. “When a suicidal teen is in distress, it’s critical that they’re able to communicate this to a trusting adult, hopefully their parent. And when the parent is told by the teen that they’re having suicidal thoughts, the parent needs to know what to communicate back to their child and who else to communicate with to get help.”

Crisis Care is a two-part app — one app for parents and one for teens — designed to prevent suicide by fostering communication between teens and their parents when they need it most. The teen user customizes their experience, selecting the kinds of resources that they believe would help them through a suicidal episode, including videos, audio files, photos, and meditation and relaxation resources. They also automatically have a “get help now” button that connects them to a suicide prevention hotline or text line.

“The parent mode is different,” O’Brien explained. “The icons are Coach, Listen, or Safety. With Coach, they get the same skills their own child has said has been helpful to them in a suicidal crisis, so they then know how to coach the child. In Listen, they learn how to listen and respond to their suicidal teen, and [in Safety] how to keep their home safe for their suicidal teen when returning from the hospital. And they also have a get help now button so they can access the tools that they need.”

MyStrength CEO Scott Cousino discussed his myStrength app, a mental health app that’s distributed via payer and provider customers including Anthem, Aetna, Humana, and Carolinas Health System.

He said one of the biggest challenges to adapting cognitive behavioral therapy tools to an app is that people interact with apps for shorter periods of time and CBT is designed to be administered in hour-long sessions.

“How do we take a proven model we know works in a face-to-face setting and figure out how we deliver that [in an app]?” he asked. “We incorporate some aspects of Facebook and Pinterest to keep it interesting and engaging. We’re doing a little bit around gamification, but for us we haven’t seen it as effective. … We’ve adopted a simple tool called the photographic affect meter, which a Cornell scientist developed, based on pictures that correspond to mood states. I may not be able to articulate what I’m feeling, but I can pick a picture and guide it down different pathways.”

Despite the innovation gap in mobile mental health, cases like Crisis Care and myStrength show that progress is possible. Another encouraging sign came today from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who announced a $500,000 challenge to design a mood-related ResearchKit app. New Venture Fund and Luminary Labs are also supporting the challenge.

“We think platforms like ResearchKit have the potential to revolutionize how research is conducted, and we're launching this competition to help explore that," RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said in a statement. "We know that mood is one of the keys to health, but much more can be learned about the relationship between mood and the many social and economic factors that affect it, and our health. We're thrilled to help advance research in this field that will help build a Culture of Health in America."

HHS CTO: Technology in healthcare is a Trojan Horse for culture change

Susannah Fox, current Chief Technology Officer at HHS and former Pew researcher, knows it's a little odd that, as CTO, her background is in anthropology, not technology. But she thinks it's also illustrative of the role technology has to play in healthcare.

“We’re living through this time right now where technology is a Trojan Horse for change,” Fox said yesterday at HxR in Boston. “We say technology, but we mean innovation. We say interoperability and open data, but we mean culture change. And this is why the HHS CTO is an anthropologist. I know about culture change. I know how difficult it is for everyone involved.”

The thrust of that culture change, Fox said, is the democratization of technology development being enabled by the internet — in the first wave a greater access to data and easier innovation of software, but now, thanks to innovations like crowdfunding and 3D printing, easier innovation of hardware too. 

“I wanted to open the aperture so technology isn’t just code or health IT, it’s also about hardware,” Fox said. “Inventors in this case are anyone who designs or develops creative physical solutions, objects, wearables, or devices, with an eye toward improving the health of themselves and others. To help people live more independently, in better health, and with better dignity.”

Part of this is just making sure innovation can come from all levels of an organization, rather than being constrained by hierarchies. But it’s also enabling innovation to spring from patients.

“User innovation is most often motivated by personal need, it’s often not motivated by profit,” she said. “They hack something together, they innovate and then they give it away. Smart organizations look for those lead users.”

Those patients already exist — Fox pointed to the #WeAreNotWaiting movement in the diabetes space, and patients hacking together age-related disability solutions. It falls on the industry to support those innovators.

“The old world is one where designers ignore lead users, or even block their access, forbidding modification of devices,” she said. “What [economist Eric] Von Hippel calls ‘we innovate, you consume.’ The shift to the user innovation model rewards those manufacturers who see those innovations, are open to people’s suggestions, or even hand them the tools to modify a device. They walk alongside the user and they enlist them as partners.”

HHS is already enabling some healthcare-focused maker spaces like E-nable, which open sources 3D-printable prosthetic designs to help people who are missing limbs or partial limbs have a low-cost option.

“We are at a critical inflection point in our history when we are in a better position than ever before to leverage the American spirit of innovation to create ways for people to live longer, with better health and more dignity,” she said. “This is something we desperately need. We need to innovate our way out of the aging trends we’re facing.”

CNBC: Most stressful part of doctor's visit: The wait, says survey

Hurry up and wait is too often the prescription you're getting when you arrive at the doctor's office — and it could be making you feel much worse than before you went there.

A new survey finds that the vast majority of patients — 85 percent — say they have to wait anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes past their scheduled appointment time to actually see their doctor.

And that waiting period is often the worst part of the doctor's visit, according to patients.

A total of 63 percent of patients said that the most stressful thing about going to their MD was waiting to get looked at.

And even after they see the doctor, less than half of patients say they have a clear understanding of what they'll have to pay before they walk out the door.

The survey, conducted for the design and development firm Sequence, suggests there is a big technological gap between how patients interact with their doctor's offices, and how they manage the rest of their lives.

Jojo Roy, CEO of Sequence, said many people "have such high expectations" about efficiency and speed of service when they use digital devices to book taxis, vacations, restaurant reservations and order products online, but that in the realm of health care, the experience "still lags." 

Roy said that among the 2,000 adults who participated in the survey, "the expectation is, sadly, pretty low" that they will get seen by a doctor at the time of their appointment, and with a minimum of paperwork.

"As patients and consumers, we somehow are willing to accept it's not as seamless, not as efficient ... as all of those other things are," Roy said.

Sequence presented the survey's results Tuesday at the HxR:Health Experience Refactored Conference in Boston.

Possibly the biggest difference between how people deal with doctors compared to other aspects of their lives is the way in which they book appointments.

Currently, about 80 percent of travelers, for example, use an online site to book and pay for a trip.

In contrast, 88 percent of doctors' appointments are scheduled by phone.

Roy said that getting health-care providers to have most of their scheduling done online could help reduce both wait times and the stress many patients associate with office visits.

More than 60 percent of the people surveyed for Sequence said they would prefer getting a text alert before they left home notifying them that they won't be seen on time. And more than half of the respondents said they wished there were screens in the doctors' waiting room offices showing estimated wait times.

Roy said that doing more scheduling online also could greatly speed up, or even eliminate, the time spent collecting information from patients once they get into the office. Instead of filling out forms in the waiting rooms, he said, patients could enter their information online at the time they're making their appointments.

About one-quarter of respondents said that they are asked, repeatedly, to provide or enter the same information on multiple forms or systems by their health providers, and that they always are asked to show their most current insurance information.

But only 34 percent of the respondents said they are confident that the person behind the front desk at their doctor's office knows who they are and the reason why they are visiting.

Roy said that doctors' offices that embrace the use of digital devices and platforms to have patients schedule appointments, enter health data and to increase transparency about what a visit will cost, could gain a competitive advantage over offices that continue to rely on the old ways of doing business.

MedWand Talks Payer Interest its Multi-Sensor, Remote Monitoring Handheld Device

Originally published by MobiHealthNews

Remote monitoring joint venture MedWand announced today at the HxRefactored event in Boston that a payer in Wisconsin has already filled an order for its device, which is still just a prototype. MedWand is a partnership between direct primary care company MedLion and engineering design firm Cypher Scientific.

MedWand debuted its remote diagnostic device of the same name, at CES earlier this year. It is a handheld medical scanner that combines a thermometer, heart rate sensor, blood oxygen sensor, otoscope, and digital stethoscope. The device will retail for $249 alone or $695 with a tablet preloaded with all the required software, PlasticsTodayreported at the time. It is set to launch later this year.

“Insurance companies are actually our biggest market right now,” MedWand Founder and MedLion CEO Dr. Samir Qamar said in a panel at the event. “We haven’t made a device yet, it’s just a prototype. We already have our first order from an insurance company in Wisconsin. They are using it to curb their sickness patients away from the ER and away from urgent care. Case in point, someone has asthma and they call for a telemedicine appointment today, chances are they are going to be told to go to the ER or urgent care because you can’t listen to their lungs or get a pulse ox. With our device you can. We are going to start taking care of those patients wherever they are, whether they’re at work or at home.”

When asked what he thought was lacking in the digital health industry, Qamar said he wished there was more of a move towards remote diagnostics, and that currently, telemedicine consists mostly of video chats.

“I’m a little frightened of how everyone is ok with telemedicine because they get to get a diagnosis very quickly from their smartphone or their computer,” Qamar said. “And that’s scary to me as a doctor because I know a lot of things can be missed, so I think not seeing enough emphasis on remote vitals and remote examination capabilities is disturbing.”

Last year, Khosla Ventures Founder Vinod Khosla said something similar at another event — that the telemedicine technology being implemented today is simplistic, though it serves a very useful purpose.

"There’s no technology in telemedicine, or very little, from my point of view, because there’s no new data," Khosla said. "It’s the same doctors making same subjective judgement. Instead of you sitting in their office, they’re doing it remotely."

Last year, a similar company, Israeli digital health device maker TytoCare raised $11 million in a round led by Cambia Health Solutions for a handheld device that can help patients examine their mouth, throat, eye, heart, lung, and skin.


Original published on liveclinic.com

Get ready to mark your calendar.

The year is only just beginning for digital health conferences. We’ve already had CES, HiMSS and there are a plethora of health conferences still to attend.

Here is HxR's listing as the 3rd Digital Health events of the year to attend in 2016.

Health Experience Refactored Conference
Date: April 5-6 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Cost: $1099 -$2049

About: HxRefactored is a revolutionary conference that focuses on improving health experiences through technology and design. Gathering more than 500 cross-disciplinary thinkers and practitioners and through an inspired mix of thought-provoking talks, workshops and discussions, HxRefactored applies design, science, evidence, and theory to reimagine the entire health journey, and find new ways to actually deliver it.


MedTech Boston sat down with founder and CXO of Mad*Pow, Amy Cueva, to discuss how innovators can leverage design to drive change in healthcare. Cueva will be delivering a keynote, Design For Change: Empathy and Purpose, at next week’s HxR conference in Boston

To start things off, how do you define design?

Design is an invitation to change. Design gets us from where we are to where we want to be. It is a human-centered pathway to guide change and to improve the experiences of the population we serve. We are all designers in one way or another.

When MedTech Boston last interviewed you in 2013, you noted that although there was an abundance of new healthcare technology on the market, it wasn’t necessarily creating better results for the patients it was intended to serve. Has this changed over the past few years? If so, how and why?

I think it has changed for the better, but the evolution is still ongoing. Over the last few years we have started to see the healthcare industry recognize the importance of empathy and the value of design. The necessity of empathy in the healthcare ecosystem has been elevated in the consciousness of the industry, and that has had a positive effect. It has led to more focus on the patient experience, and that is starting to result in better patient outcomes.

There is still much work to be done, though. The industry does still suffer from “shiny object syndrome.” There is still the tendency to throw a lot of technology at a problem without figuring out workflow and without considering the patient experience through the entire healthcare ecosystem, across channels.

Still many healthcare organizations have declared their purpose to be a partner in health to the people they serve. That gives me hope that we will get there.

MedTech Boston recently attended an iGiant roundtable that discussed sex and gender specific design elements in healthcare.  In what ways is design being leveraged to improve the health and wellness of women?

Core tenets of human-centered design are inclusion and diversity. Inclusion meaning that there is input from everyone who has a stake in the solution. Diversity meaning that we seek the opinions of a range of people, including those of differing ethnicities, various economic and social backgrounds, and of different genders.

We, as designers, will come up with better, more effective solutions if a diverse range of people provide input in the process. Human-centered design has opened up the process of design to a more diverse group, and that has made for more effective solutions for everyone, including women.

With regards to women, specifically, the greater inclusion of women in problem-solving and design related to healthcare, has led to the injection of some stereotypically female characteristics into healthcare solutions:emotion, intuition, openness and nurturing. Adopting these characteristics into the business of healthcare has had a positive effect not only on the care that women receive, but on the care that all patients are receiving. The participation of women in the design and development of healthcare solutions has increased the quality and effectiveness of care for women, and for everyone else.

What parts of the healthcare system do you think most urgently need to be redesigned or improved through design?

We need to improve the experience people have interacting with the healthcare system.  Anyone who has experienced a health crisis themselves or with a family member knows how painful and frustrating it can be to navigate. These are emotional situations, and patients and their families need support, empathy, and seamless connections to care. Our healthcare system is not up to that standard yet. It needs an infusion of humanity and kindness to build trust with patients and their families.

After improving basic interactions between patients and the healthcare systems, the next frontier in healthcare is that it’s ripe for improvement in prevention. We need to take common sense steps to prevent people from becoming patients in the first place.

In spite of our resources, Americans keep getting sicker and sicker. The American diet, chronic stress, addiction, and the sedentary workplace all add up to astronomical health costs due to lifestyle-induced health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Health organizations will look beyond transitional care to the whole health of the person. That is going to take a while to do, and that is going to take collaboration with the food system and the workplace, etc.

This is a prime opportunity for design to help improve healthcare. Design is all about collaboration and bringing various ideas together to build a solution. At this point, improving the healthcare system is not about innovation – it is about collaboration. Collaboration is the NEW innovation.

Looking forward to your upcoming keynote at HxR, how can empathy help designers improve patient experience?

Empathy can help us find our life’s mission as individuals, or it can help our organization find its purpose. It is in truly understanding the needs of the people whom we serve that we will get the drive to go ahead and make the change that’s needed.

Empathy has been elevated in the healthcare industry consciousness. They are delivering more human support that people can use. Empathy can continue to drive better patient experiences and better health outcomes.

However, we are at risk of “empathy” becoming a buzzword. This can lead to cookie cutter solutions that miss the target. We have to guard against empathy becoming a meaningless buzzword that’s thrown around without regard for its purpose.

Empathy is not the end, it is the means. Empathy is not a trend. It is a philosophy. We need designers, developers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and healthcare executives to continue to embrace empathy as an essential philosophy and let it drive solutions for improving the patient experience.

HIMSS: Empathy's Role in Helping us Design Better Health

Originally published on HIMSS blog

Empathy is nearing played-out-buzzword status: overused and overhyped and caricatured to the point where any real nuance or subtlety is hard to come by. Use of the word empathy these days is almost as likely to generate a round of eyerolls as it is to inspire compassion. Has it joined the ranks of ideas like “disruption” and “innovation”? Perhaps. But as with these kinds of terms, even if the concept of empathy is beginning to feel a little worn, that doesn’t mean its original significance is gone or irrelevant. Like a comfortable pair of jeans, we should celebrate that a concept such as empathy is beginning to feel familiar and worn in, rather than dismissing it as worn out and worthless.

Empathy is a critical component of, but not the complete center of, the design universe. It’s necessary but not sufficient. It’s a means, not an end. And it may not even be a means for all types of design— for human centered design, certainly it’s completely necessary as a contrast to considering only one’s own personal experiences or extrapolating from a single perspective while designing for other humans with other experiences and perspectives. But human centeredness isn’t all there is to good design. It’s but one approach to identifying needs and solving problems, and while it has been the prevailing philosophy in recent years, that doesn’t mean it will continue as such, or that it is always the right approach for all design challenges even at present... and the same may be said of empathy as a key design ingredient.

From a systems thinking perspective, we can certainly conceive of myriad scenarios and circumstances, (e.g. wicked problems such as healthcare, education, climate change), that won’t be solved by the current conception of human centered design. Though not in direct opposition to human centered design, practices such as service design and transition design broaden the problem space to the point where it makes less sense to focus on single individual humans as a guiding design method. That’s not to say empathy is no longer needed-- simply that what it means to build it and what we do with it may change.

Empathy is a means, not an end.

Empathy is the kind of word that designers must grab onto before it gets away from us as a profession. Disruption, innovation, failing forward, design thinking, human centered design, ethnography, curiosity, making: these concepts used to be new! and important! and over time have become familiar and even hackneyed. But they have also become table stakes for good design practice. Similarly, empathy isn’t a trend. Even as some may grow tired of the word, that fatigue stems from the phenomenon of too many people talking about it and describing its necessity without really cutting to the core of it is or what to do with it.

What is it? Empathy is usually conceived as “feeling what someone else feels” or “walking in someone else’s shoes.” But perhaps more importantly, empathy isn’t the same as sympathy, and it’s more than just imagining what it feels like to experience something from another’s perspective. There is a difference between cognitive empathy (the capacity to understand another’s mental state), and affective empathy (feeling & responding to another’s emotional state). It’s critical for designers to understand the difference and act with intention to design with the type of empathy that best serves the unique circumstances of their work at any given point in time. There is a very real difference between metaphorically putting oneself in someone else’s shoes in order to think through the kinds of problems they might face, and feeling, on a deeply genuine level, the emotions and affective experiences that someone else is facing. We must understand what we truly mean when we say we design with empathy. It’s not playing dress up with someone else’s life, it’s thinking and feeling what someone else thinks and feels in order to better understand the experience you’re trying to improve.

What do we do with it? It’s not enough to feel connected to one’s design audience. Empathy is a means to better design, to better outcomes-- which is achieved by weaving empathy into the methodologies we use, not simply just caring about our design audience. Indi Young recently discussed some of the implications of empathy within persona development: “cognitive empathy requires not a face, not preferences and demographics, but the underlying reasoning, reactions, and guiding principles.” And MadPow’s Jamie Thomson has shared her own insights from designing with empathy at the intersection of healthcare and experience design. Activities such as shadowing, empathy mapping, gamestorming, and journey mapping help us develop empathy, while activities such as generative making, collaging, and collaborative sketching help us put that empathy into action for solution ideation.

As design evolves, the role of empathy will evolve with it.

The natural evolution of design empathy and for designers in general is to more broadly acknowledge what can be inherently paternalistic about our work and our interpretations of empathy. Consider even the term “user” or the phrase “designing for.. ” and the implications of that dynamic.

There is a very real shift beginning to take place that moves us from

“Let me understand how this looks and feels to you… now let me solve this problem for you by pretending to be you and layering my design skills on top to solve it.”

...toward something more like…

“Let me understand how this looks and feels to you... and now let me use that understanding to build tools with you so you can solve that problem any time.”

...and eventually to a lack of differentiation between me/designer and you/designee:

“Let me understand how this looks and feels to you… and you can understand how it looks and feels to me, and we’ll design something together toward a shared vision.”

Empathy is going to be the critical component in a design evolution that leads to a world where everyone designs-- and our roles as design practitioners become more of facilitation than problem solving. Certainly we’re not there yet— our ‘users’ and ‘clients’ still need us to help design better experiences for others because there’s no way for those customers to demand or create it themselves. But as we shift toward a future with more access and participation (made possible by technology first and foremost), it will mean we create experiences (digital and otherwise), and ultimately systems, that are more flexible and socially sustainable in the long run.

I have personally been thinking about design this way since I met Liz Sanders, who has written a lot about about participatory design and generative design research. More recently, Dan Lockton has been writing about similar themes as a way of designing for agency, and Kevin Slavin writes similarly about design as participation. There is growing momentum for this approach to design and I believe empathy is still the keystone of these conversations.

So what is the future of empathy? Perhaps it will be seen in the type of methods we apply it to: cultural probes, empathy collaging, generative toolkits. These are methods I use today and see designers embracing more significantly in the future. But these methods and others we use at MadPow are not meant solely to build empathy among designers by imagining themselves in their users’ shoes; instead, they are meant to bring the users (ahem, fellow humans), into the same room as designers and to dissolve the distinction between them-- engaging all to co-design more innovative and sustainable experiences and systems.

In this way, empathy becomes something actionable, allowing it to evolve in a very real and meaningful way, not as the empty buzzword whose peak relevance has passed.

Learn how empathy can inspire us to improve the experience of Health at Mad*Pow’s annual health conference, HxRefactored. The conference is dedicated to exploring how human centered design and technology will improve health experiences and brings together over 500 innovators, strategists, designers, technologists, and executives in health and the next conference is April 5-6, 2016 in Boston. Speakers include Charlie Baker, MA Governor, Susanna Fox, CTO of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer of Cleveland Clinic, and Ryan Armbruster of Harken Health. The theme of this year’s conference is “Design for Change”. Among sessions on empathy in healthcare and how to leverage it to improve health, other tracks include patient stories and narratives, designing for motivation and behavior change, organizational design, care delivery innovation, clinical trial experiences, self care for diabetes, and designing mental health and addiction recovery experiences.


Governor’s Keynote Completes a Day Focused on Innovation in Mental Health and Addiction Recovery

BOSTON, MA -- March 2, 2016 -- Mad*Pow and Health 2.0 today announced that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will deliver a keynote address on the opioid crisis at this year’s HxRefactored conference, being held April 5-6 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. HxRefactored is a revolutionary conference gathering more than 600 entrepreneurs, healthcare clinicians, designers and technologists from around the world for two days of thought-provoking panels, workshops and discussions on how to improve the quality of the health experience. Gov. Baker, who will speak on April 6th at 5:20 p.m., will discuss the opioid crisis and how the government, the health industry, designers, technologists, and many other members of society can come together to tackle this huge problem.


“With nearly four deaths per day in the Commonwealth, the opioid epidemic sweeping our state and country requires a vast array of tools and collaboration as we work to curb this public health crisis,” said Gov. Baker. “While we cannot solve the problem overnight, conversations with healthcare experts and innovators will ensure the latest technology and ideas are applied to facilitate progress and eradicate the opioid crisis from our communities.”


In addition to the keynote from Gov. Baker, HxRefactored will feature a number of other events focused on addiction, mental health and recovery. Drug Story Theater, an improvisational troop of teenagers in the early stages of recovery from addiction, will perform at HxRefactored.  These teens develop and perform their own shows about the seduction of, addiction to, and recovery from drugs and alcohol, and they bring these shows to schools and youth groups throughout Massachusetts to help educate others and transform themselves.  Drug Story Theater will present a special performance for the HxRefactored audience just prior to Gov. Baker’s speech.

“We are honored to have Gov. Baker join HxRefactored to bring attention to the opioid crisis.  A focus on the problem of addiction, the need for better mental health and for innovative ways to support people in recovery are all topics that are important to me, as a person who has experienced what it is like to see a family member suffer from addiction,” said Amy Cueva, Mad*Pow Founder and Chief Experience Officer.  “We are hopeful that we can harness the power of HxRefactored attendees to brainstorm ideas for how we can work together to improve the support and care available for those battling addiction or experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The conference also features several panel discussions and workshops relevant to the topic, including Designing to Improve Mental Health & Recovery, a design workshop being held on April 5 at 4:30 p.m..  More information about HxRefactored 2016, including agendas and speaker information can be found at http://www.hxrefactored.com.  To register and purchase tickets, visit http://www.health2con.com/ticket/hxrefactored-2016.

About Mad*Pow

Mad*Pow is a design agency that improves the experiences people have with technology, organizations, and each other. Using human-centered design, Mad*Pow creates strong multi-channel experience strategies, intuitive digital experiences and streamlined processes for its clients. Founded in 2000, Mad*Pow has partnered with industry leaders including Cigna, ESPN, Pearson, adidas, John Hancock, Microsoft, and Google. Mad*Pow has received honors for design excellence by the Webby Awards and the W3C. The company has offices in Boston and Portsmouth, NH.

About Health 2.0

Health 2.0 is the premiere showcase and catalyst for the advancement of new health technologies. Through a global series of conferences, thought leadership roundtables, developer competitions, pilot programs, and leading market intelligence, Health 2.0 drives the innovation and collaboration necessary to transform health and health care.


Liz Griffith




Deepa Mistry


SOURCE Health 2.0



Design & Developer-focused Conference on April 5-6th Will Discuss How to Improve the Healthcare Experience

BOSTON, MA -- February 23, 2016 -- Health 2.0 and Mad*Pow today announced the final agenda for the HxRefactored 2016 Conference being held on April 5-6 at the Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, Mass. HxRefactored is a revolutionary design and technology conference gathering more than 600 designers, developers, and entrepreneurs from around the world for two days of thought-provoking panels, workshops and discussions on how to improve the quality of the health experience. Tickets to attend the conference can be purchased at www.hxrefactored.com.

In addition to the signature design-focused panels and discussions, HxRefactored 2016 will feature in-depth developer and data focused elements. Key session topics include:

  • Leveraging Design to Improve Health Experiences
  • Ethical Considerations in Designing for Change
  • Design for Change: Building Creative, Collaborative Cultures
  • Designing Within a Hospital System: Challenges and Strategies
  • Data Insights: Mining, Modeling and Visualizations
  • Facilitating Innovation in Clinical Environments
  • DevOps for Health Care: Agile & Process Design

Speakers headlining this year’s HxRefactored include:

  • Susannah Fox, CTO, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
  • Shahid Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Netspective Communications
  • Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer, Cleveland Clinic
  • Harri Hursti, CTO, Zyptonite
  • Daniel Stein, Chief Medical Officer, Walmart
  • Jonathan Hare, CEO, WebShield Inc.
  • Nathan Larson, Dir. of Remote Medical Sensing, Dartmouth-Hitchcock
  • Jorge Caballero, Head of Data, Amino
  • Lesley Solomon, Executive Director, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Justin Pedro, Technical Director, CloudDX
  • Samir Qamar, Founder & CEO, MedWand
  • Vidya Raman-Tangella, Head of Innovation Center of Excellence, United Health Group
  • Niraj Katwala, CTO, Talix
  • Sarah Nelson, Design Practice Lead, IBM
  • Aashima Gupta, VP of Digital Transformation-Healthcare, Apigee

“HxRefactored brings together leading deep-water technologists and mixes them with top level designers in a unique health care conference,” says Health 2.0 Co-Chairman Matthew Holt. “It is the place to learn about cutting edge data sets, integration tools, APIs, sensors, genomics, and more, and how that new technology and data meshes with human centered design to create a better health care experience for everyone.”

 “HxRefactored is a one-of-a-kind event, with an agenda that features presentations ranging from inspirational, to innovative, to practical,” said Amy Cueva, Mad*Pow Founder and Chief Experience Officer.  “After spending two days with industry leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators, attendees are going to leave HxRefactored inspired and motivated to get to work building a better health experience.”

For more information on speakers, to view the full agenda, and to register for HxRefactored, visit www.hxrefactored.com.

About Health 2.0
Health 2.0 is the premiere showcase and catalyst for the advancement of new health technologies. Through a global series of conferences, thought leadership roundtables, developer competitions, pilot programs, and leading market intelligence, Health 2.0 drives the innovation and collaboration necessary to transform health and health care. 

About Mad*Pow
Mad*Pow is a design agency that improves the experiences people have with technology, organizations, and each other. Using human-centered design, Mad*Pow creates strong multi-channel experience strategies, intuitive digital experiences and streamlined processes for its clients. Founded in 2000, Mad*Pow has partnered with industry leaders including Cigna, ESPN, Pearson, adidas, John Hancock, Microsoft, and Google. Mad*Pow has received honors for design excellence by the Webby Awards and the W3C. The company has offices in Boston and Portsmouth, NH.

Deepa Mistry
SOURCE Health 2.0

Liz Griffith



GW Public Health: 24 Healthcare Conferences to Attend in 2016

Originally published on mha.gwu.edu

Changing regulations, advances in technology, new care models, consolidations and the pressure to reduce costs are just a few of the challenges health administration professionals manage on a daily basis — which is why the 2016 healthcare conference circuit is dominated by topics related to these challenges. Attending a healthcare conference not only provides valuable networking opportunities, but it can also be an effective strategy to access needed resources and learn from experts in the field. With so many conferences offered, however, it can be difficult to know which ones to attend. To help, MHA@GW has compiled a list of 24 healthcare conferences that health administration professionals should consider attending in 2016. Use our interactive map to determine which ones are happening in your area. 

  1. Health Care Administrators Association (HCAA) 2016 Executive Forum (February 9–11)
  2. 2016 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference & Exhibition (February 28–March 4)
  3. Home Healthcare Leaders’ Summit (March 3–4)
  4. 2016 Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Change Conference: Lead Well at Every Turn (March 10–11)
  5. SX Health & MedTech Expo (March 12–13)
  6. American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) 2016 Congress on Healthcare Leadership (March 14–17)
  7. Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) 17th Annual Summit on Improving Patient Care in the Office Practice and the Community (March 20–22)
  8. Health Experience Refactored (HXR) Conference (April 5–6)
  9. Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (April 6–8)
  10. American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) HealthCon 2016 (April 10–13)
  11. Healthcare Providers Transformation Assembly (April 17–19)
  12. Becker’s Hospital Review 7th Annual Meeting (April 27–30)
  13. AMIA iHealth Conference (May 5–6)
  14. Health Datapalooza (May 8–11)
  15. National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) 42nd Annual Conference: The Multiple Faces of the Patient Experience (May 24–27)
  16. Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA): Annual National Institute (June 26–29)
  17. Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP) 2016 (July 27–29)
  18. Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM): Collaborating To Achieve the Triple Aim (July 31–August 3)
  19. Healthcare Billing & Management Association (HBMA) Fall Annual Conference (September 21–23)
  20. American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) Annual Conference (September 24–27)
  21. American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Convention & Exhibit (October 15–19)
  22. 13th Annual Connected Health Symposium (October 20–21)
  23. Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) (October 30–November 2)
  24. TEDMED 2016 (November 30–December 2)

8. Health Experience Refactored (HXR) Conference
April 5–6, 2016
Boston, Massachusetts

Who should attend: Healthcare leaders, health IT leaders, clinicians, IT professionals and designers

Organized by Mad*Pow and Health 2.0, HXRefactored gathers more than 600 cross-disciplinary thinkers and practitioners to focus on improving health experiences through technology and design. Using a variety of offerings — including thought-provoking talks, workshops and discussions — HxRefactored applies design, science, evidence and theory to envision the health journey in new and innovative ways that will help make it a reality. “We founded the conference five years ago,” says Amy Cueva, founder and CEO of Mad*Pow. “There were a lot of health conferences, and there were a lot of design conferences. But there weren’t a lot of conferences that explored the overlap of the two. We wanted to make that happen. The theme of the conference is exploring how human centered design and technology can improve health experiences. We are bringing together people who believe that human centered design can make a difference and bring a new lens to the problems that exist in healthcare...Anyone who believes that design can make a difference in health should come.” Mad*Pow is “a design agency that improves the experiences people have with technology, organizations and each other.” Health 2.0 is “the premier showcase and catalyst for the advancement of new health technologies.” In the words of Cueva, “A person is more than just their disease or condition. They are a person. [The conference] is about designing to improve the patient experience and clinical experiences, but it is really improving the human experience of health.”

Originally published on mha.gwu.edu

Mad*Pow and Health 2.0 Announce Sixth Annual HXRefactored Conference

Mad*Pow and Health 2.0 announced today that the sixth annual HxRefactored conference will take place on April 5-6, 2016, in Boston, MA.  HxRefactored 2016 is a healthcare experience, design and development conference, drawing thought leaders and entrepreneurs from the design, technology and health industries.

Tickets to attend HxRefactored cost $999 until Wednesday, January 13th at 11:59 p.m. EST and then increase to $1,099. They can be purchased at www.hxrefactored.com.

“The HxRefactored conference brings together more than 600 designers, developers, health experts and practitioners for two days of immersive, thought-provoking sessions, workshops and on-site design challenges focused on improving the health experience,” said Amy Cueva, Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Mad*Pow and HxRefactored Co-chair. “We are thrilled to be a part of an event that can draw diverse ideas for solving some of our toughest healthcare challenges.”

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference represent thought leaders in business, healthcare and academia.  Speakers include:

  • Shahid Shah, CEO, Netspective
  • Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dustin DiTommaso, Senior Vice President, Behavior Change, Mad*Pow
  • Adam Connor, Vice President, Organizational Design and Training, Mad*Pow
  • Amy Cueva, Founder and Chief Experience Officer, Mad*Pow and Co-chair, HxRefactored
  • David Ludwig, Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Professor of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Adrienne Boissy, Chief Experience Officer, Patient Experience, Cleveland Clinic
  • Aleta Hays, Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts

“Health 2.0 is happy to welcome this year’s keynote speakers and is excited for them to share ideas with the HxRefactored audience,” said Health 2.0 co-founders, Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya. “This year’s keynote speakers combine the strength of the global technology community with the expertise of leading practitioners and academics to provide a look at our healthcare system from multiple viewpoints.  HxR will drive innovation that will empower health practitioners and patients, and change healthcare for the better.”

Full event information can be found at: www.hxrefactored.com.

Mad*Pow is a design agency that improves the experiences people have with technology, organizations, and each other. Using human-centered design, Mad*Pow creates strong multi-channel experience strategies, intuitive digital experiences and streamlined processes for its clients. Founded in 2000, Mad*Pow has partnered with industry leaders including Cigna, ESPN, Pearson, adidas, John Hancock, Microsoft, and Google.

Mad*Pow has received honors for design excellence by the Webby Awards and the W3C. The company has offices in Boston and Portsmouth, NH.Health 2.0 is the premiere showcase and catalyst for the advancement of new health technologies. Through a global series of conferences, thought leadership roundtables, developer competitions, pilot programs, and leading market intelligence, Health 2.0 drives the innovation and collaboration necessary to transform health and health care.

Improving the Health Experience

The HxRefactored Conference brings together designers, health care providers, public health professionals, and others interested in the intersection of design and technology for a cross-disciplinary exploration of ways to improve the health experience. On April 1st and 2nd, I attended the conference in Boston, Massachusetts sponsored by MadPow and Health 2.0

The conference was jam-packed with inspiring presentations on topics including human centered design/usability, technology, health literacy/equity, mindfulness/stress reduction, behavior change, patient activism, electronic health records and organizational design.  Presenters shared ways to use design and technology to improve the health experience.  I hope you find these summaries of keynote presentations food for thought on creative ways to improve the health experience.

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Key Healthcare Takeaways from HxRefactored

Health Experience Refactored (HxRefactored), a conference co-hosted by health innovation event planner Health 2.0 and design agency Mad*Pow, recently met at the Westin Boston Waterfront on April 1 and 2, 2015. There was an impressive turnout of professionals from diverse industries, all gathering to discuss how to improve healthcare through better patient-centered design. The two-day event was jam-packed with keynotes from influential speakers, panel discussions, exhibits, and other presentations.

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10 Design Takeaways from HxRefactored

As physicians, healthcare professionals, designers, developers, researchers and strategists gathered at the Westin Boston Waterfront for this year’s Healthcare Experience Refactored (HxR) conference, they heard a variety of talks that centered on improving the patient experience. At the core of the many presentations were some essential concepts that everyone – practitioners and designers alike – can apply to take the healthcare experience to the next level.

Here are a few design ideas that healthcare companies and entrepreneurs should consider as they seek to innovate in this space:

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