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

​Mad*Pow designing solutions to health care’s problems

Originally posted on Boston Business Journal

When Mad*Pow heard that medication adherence for patients with HIV was a problem, executives figured the solution could be found in design.

The Boston design firm — in partnership with the Center for Disease Control, health consulting firm John Snow Inc. and non-profit AIDS organizations — subsequently designed and developed an app to help patients take their medication.

“HIV medication can make you feel terrible. (We’re) making a connection between adherence and (positive outcomes),” saidAmy Cueva, Mad*Pow’s founder and CEO.

In addition to linking medication use with positive lab results, the app is designed to have patients upload a photo that’s meaningful, write a personal mantra encouraging their healthy behavior, and identify a buddy to help.

The app, which is in the midst of receiving final iTunes store approval, is one of several ways Mad*Pow is bolstering health through design, whether by designing an app that uses games to encourages healthy behaviors, or using motivational psychology to encourage patients to follow doctor’s orders.

The organization recently wrapped up another project with Joslin Diabetes Center to create an app helping diabetes patients to lose weight. For the users that remained on the app, anecdotal evidence showed that it worked.

“We’re exploring what works and what doesn’t, and how can we design technology that helps people change their behaviors and change their lives,” Cueva said.

The use of design in health care is becoming more prevalent in health care circles, and was a central talking point at HxRefactored, a health care conference in Boston in early April. Over 500 people from a variety of health industries came together to discuss how design could be health care's solution.

The conference helped spur Mad*Pow’s latest focus on designing a health care ecosystem, showing how each aspect of the industry can work together for the patient.

Mad*Pow is also working on creating a designer’s oath, similar to the Hippocratic Oath, to uphold ethical standards within health care design.

“In health, a designer can be someone who saves a life,” Cueva said.