Healthcare Experience Design Conference 2013

Jun 24

Early last week, we had the opportunity to attend the third annual Healthcare Experience Design conference (HxD) in Boston, presented by experience design firm Mad*Pow. A merging of the healthcare and design industries, this conference showcases the importance of making patient care and patient management more efficient and effective through great design solutions, from education to games to social networking.

Here are some highlights:


Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter

Game designer and creator of SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal kicked off the conference as the first keynote speaker. Speaking candidly about her experience four years ago with a traumatic brain injury, Jane enlightened us on how games can actually create healthier, more resilient, “super empowered hopeful individuals.”

In 2009 Jane hit her head and suffered a concussion. Her brain didn’t fully recover, and she was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, a not-uncommon side effect of concussions that results in nauseau, vertigo, and depression, among other issues. Feeling helpless and hopeless, Jane turned to gaming as a way to cope with her issues. She created an alter ego – a superheroine – called Jane the Concussion Slayer, then developed a game for herself to face challenges and build resilience.

Her coping mechanism became SuperBetter, a popular interactive game that helps players reach health goals, recover from traumas, and build resilience.





David Sobel, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente

Dr. Sobel delivered an engaging keynote about how to change behaviors to improve health. He suggested that the process of changing behavior for a healthier lifestyle can be equally as important as – and inspire the same feelings of self-efficacy as – the outcome of that behavior change. But designers need to stop making behavior change

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look boring and lame:




…And start making behavior change look sexy and mysterious:




It’s a challenge designers in the healthcare space should get excited about!


Jamie Heywood, PatientsLikeMe

Jamie Heywood and two friends founded PatientsLikeMe when his brother was diagnosed with ALS. They wanted to find a community space where they could share their experiences with ALS, hear others’ ALS stories, and foster support and openness. When they didn’t find a solution that met those needs, they created their own.

Now PatientsLikeMe has expanded its mission: “The whole point of the platform is to make you not die,” Jamie said.

To do this, we need to use measurement-based medicine in tandem with patient-centered design – not as an add-on to patient care when it’s convenient. Giving patients what they need emotionally is part of proper care, and what they need is to feel in control, to solve their problems, to be seen as a person rather than a disease, and to feel confident about the care they’re receiving. Focusing on the patient’s emotional needs is not a supplement to care; it’s an integral part of care.

Jamie wants to take PatientsLikeMe to the next level of user-centered design so that the patients who need the site for emotional care are getting the most out of what it has to offer in the easiest way possible.




Posted by: David Richard

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