Today’s guest post is written by Kirt Hine, who was a research intern at PatientsLikeMe in June and July. On his last day, Kirt gave a presentation to the entire company about his experience at the 2012 Healthcare Experience Design Conference, held in Boston last March. It made such an impression that we asked him to share his takeaways on the blog.
The Healthcare Experience Design Conference, known in short as “HxD,” is somewhat of an anomaly. It deviates from traditional healthcare conferences in that you have seasoned healthcare professionals sitting alongside academics, graphic designers, product experts, marketing agents, and entrepreneurs. You know that feeling you get when you find something that you didn’t even know was missing? That’s the way I felt attending HxD 2012. It’s a true melting pot of professionals, and it hits an innovative sweet spot in the ever changing world of healthcare.
Preventative health, open data, electronic medical records and mobile health were just a few of the themes buzzing around HxD 2012. But for me, the overall theme of the conference was the inherent trend of consumer-centered health. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in healthcare – one in which patients are becoming customers. With technological innovations and proper user interfaces, these customers are taking their health into their own hands.
Out of over two dozen speakers, there were a handful that stood out. Joseph Flaherty, senior manager of Agamatrix, gave an intriguing presentation about improving healthcare outcomes. Joseph is a seasoned hardware developer, and his presence was a great example of HxD’s professional diversity. Todd Park, CTO of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), gave a keynote address titled Unleashing the Power of Open Data and Innovation to Improve Health. It was honestly groundbreaking. This tweet by conference speaker John Yesko sums it up pretty well: “@todd_park is killing it at the HxD conference. Future of government?”
Speaking of John Yesko, he is the user experience director at Walgreens. His talk, based on his experience and achievements in the retail pharmacy setting, was a wise take on the fundamental principles of consumer self service in healthcare. On the mobile health front, speaker Josh Clark debunked mobile design myths. “There’s no such thing as mobile web,” he said while talking about how to make health apps more universal for users. Devorah Klein, a Boston-based designer, echoed these thoughts and said that this is especially true when designing for behavior change – an increasingly common goal in healthcare.
Athena Health President, CEO and Co-Founder Jonathan Bush, seen on the right in the image above, gave an entertaining reality check during his closing keynote interview. I remember thinking to myself that the primary problem in healthcare is determining what our healthcare problems truly are. With modern technology though, society is getting closer to solving those problems. Fittingly, HxD’s mission statement reads: “We have the power to positively affect human lives through improved design technology in the healthcare arena. We’re bringing together the best and brightest to explore the toughest challenges and present new solutions.” And from my point of view, the conference succeeded at that.
It is impossible to properly acknowledge all of the noteworthy speakers and topics in this post. But thanks to modern technology and sponsors, much of the conference is available for free on the web. HxD’s site offers a fun, interactive and illustrated “walk through” of the 2012 conference that includes slide decks, videos and abstracts of the speakers I mentioned above. Additionally, HxD’s video page lists all of the speakers alongside videos of their talks.
If any of this sparks your interest, I encourage you to attend HxD next year. The dates are March 24-26, 2013. Mark your calendars, and maybe we’ll see you there.