Addressing Unmet Needs In Health Care | Amy Cueva, Chief Experience Officer, Mad*Pow

By Amy Cueva, Founder & Chief Experience Officer, Mad*Pow

On May 13-14, 2014, Health 2.0 and Mad*Pow will present HxRefactored, a revolutionary health technology conference bringing together more than 500 developers, designers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to improve and disrupt the health experience.  I will be there, talking about a topic I’m very passionate about: addressing unmet needs in health care.

There are some needs in today’s healthcare environment that no organization provides.  For example, when a newly diagnosed patient is overwhelmed by the change in health care status, where does he or she go for help?  When a person with a chronic health condition feels helpless to change their behaviors, who provides support to overcome that helplessness? In today’s complex healthcare environment, there are a maddening number of opportunities for patients to fall through the cracks with vital needs unmet.

I believe smart design has a role in solving these problems.  I am passionate about addressing unmet needs in today’s healthcare field, and I believe real, successful solutions lie in collaborative design.  We are all designers.  Design is powerful.  Thoughtful design is capable of improving the human condition.

One of the first steps on the journey to addressing unmet needs in healthcare is to embrace a concept that might feel a little foreign to those of us from the business world:  Emotion matters.  Traditional business environments encourage us to tamp-down emotions, but it is time for new thinking.  Emotion is the key to well-being.  You cannot truly have health without psychological and social well-being.  Successful design has to take emotion into consideration.  How can we reach a panicked, newly-diagnosed diabetes patient?  Can the man with heart disease find help changing his diet?  Can a woman with a rare form of cancer get help researching treatment options?  These unmet needs can be addressed if an ecosystem of care can be fully realized and connected.  In this way, successful design can change health outcomes.

To address unmet needs in today’s healthcare universe, we need to design an ecosystem that is focused on care.  Many have tried and failed to make this happen, and that has left behind a legacy of negative thinking: it can’t be done.  But it can be done.  Thoughtful partnership, careful design, and determination are producing real results now.  We can move forward to create a robust ecosystem that will address those unmet needs, those needs that slip through the cracks because no one “owns” them.  It is in everyone’s best interest to do so.

How can we identify and address unmet needs?

  • Do research.  Identify the gaps in our current healthcare system.
  • Allow ourselves to feel.  Imagine the emotions of those facing a health challenge.  Envision their journey.  What questions will they have?  Who will answer them?  How will they determine the best course of action?  How will they manage the impact on their daily lives?  What lifestyle changes do they face?
  • Look for feelings, triggers, patterns, transitions, and opportunities.  This is where the solutions lie.  If we can identify patterns of behavior, we can design solutions that help.  We can create solutions that address emotions, identify triggers, take advantage of patterns, manage transitions, or leverage opportunities.

Great things are happening in design and healthcare, but we can do more.  I hope you will join me at HxRefactored in Brooklyn, NY to talk more about the opportunities we have to collaborate, create, and address vital, unmet needs in today’s healthcare ecosystem.

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