Entries in user experience (7)


Future of Healthcare 

How will healthcare look one year from today? Healthcare is a complex system, highly obstinate and often dictated by politics, making this a very difficult question to answer. However, healthcare and its all-encompassing stakeholders are rife with opportunity. Those opportunities were among the hot topics discussed at the inaugural Essential Threads event earlier this month. The theme of the first event was “linking healthcare, technology and design”. Essential co-founder and Partner, Scott Stropkay, welcomed the group of cross-functional industry thought leaders, practitioners and evangelists and kicked off the event with a powerful message:

Tonight’s conversation is where ideas take shape.

The presentation portion of the evening commenced with Dr. John Moore from the MIT Media Lab sharing some of the New Media Medicine Group’s approaches towards greater patient engagement. The New Media Medicine Group at the Media Lab strives to create more accessibility and empowerment for patients, allowing them to manage their health hands-on.  Using a model of apprenticeship, which focuses on education, mentorship and training, Dr. Moore and his team facilitate an ongoing dialogue and collaborative decision making between doctors and patients. Implementing technologies such as sensors, game mechanics, visualization and teleconferencing, these projects improve the patient experience, while creating a new paradigm for a more efficient and accountable healthcare delivery system.

Next, Jeremy Gilbert, Head of Product at PatientsLikeMe spoke about his company’s mission to connect patient insights with those who can help advance patient outcomes. Gilbert reiterated that despite its online sharing platform for patients, PatientsLikeMe is not a social network, but rather a new kind of registry that encourages patients to share clinically relevant evidence about their health and experiences. Using this data, PatientsLikeMe aims to create deeper patient engagement, allowing patients to examine real-time data with their doctors and make informed decisions regarding their health. Data is also analyzed for trends and developments in patients’ health, providing valuable information for longitudinal studies of the effectiveness of drugs and methodologies.

Bill Hartman, the Director of Research at Essential, spoke about the importance of user experience and the potential of Meaningful Use guidelines in Electronic Health Records (EHR). Having been raised in a medical household (Bill’s father was a physician), combined with his background as an adjunct user experience professor at Bentley University gave Bill an interesting perspective on the topic. According to Bill, we must design more immersive experiences to make the best use of EHR and home-health applications through personalized data visualizations. Only then will we be more adept in identifying and understanding significant patterns in our own health, from myriad of personal well-being metrics to personal genomics. Bill also identified some indirect benefits to Meaningful Use, such as stressing the importance of the overall healthcare team, from nurse to doctor to the patient himself, rather than today’s litigious yet paternalistic environment. Hartman concluded his talk by dispelling the long-standing notion that managed care is an oxymoron, characterizing Meaningful Use as an opportunity, not a limitation.

Dr. Anand Iyer, the President and COO of WellDoc, wrapped up the presentation portion of the evening by sharing his company’s approach for helping patients manage chronic diseases electronically. According to Dr. Iyer, patients get better when they are compliant and that is what WellDoc facilitates. Using patient input, WellDoc tracks real-time patterns in diabetes metrics, such as AC1, providing clinical decision support and coaching for patients, increasing engagement and ultimately, compliance. In looking to the future, Iyer expects to see doctors writing prescriptions for software instead of drug, with WellDoc blazing trails in this frontier as the first of its kind to receive FDA approval. During his presentation, Anand alluded to what applications must entail in order to receive approval. What was his recommendation? Make sure your application exhibits concrete results that can be measured relatively soon. If you can demonstrate big change, you will succeed.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Brian Dolan, Editor of MobiHealthNews. During the panel, the speakers answered questions on topics such as whether applications like WellDoc should be compulsory, how doctors should respond to patient over-empowerment and how to turn medical innovations into sustainable solutions. The response from the panel was unanimous: in order to create the “future of healthcare” in the present, we must take note from other industries, share innovation to make everyone healthier and fundamentally change the way healthcare is delivered.

When asked what changes healthcare would undergo in the next year, the panelists implied that one year is simply too short-term to effect the kind of change necessary to overhaul the system. However, panelists all agreed that current players are paving the way for positive outcomes.



linking healthcare, technology + design

Exciting news from Essential! Next week, we’ll be hosting Essential Threads: linking healthcare, technology + design at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center. The first of its kind, this event was created to bolster collaboration, conversation and most importantly, action within Boston’s innovation community.  

The inaugural event will examine the convergence of existing and emerging technologies and trends, and their impact on the design of healthcare systems, experiences and products. Speakers from across the healthcare spectrum, from patient-to-patient information sharing to chronic disease management among other topics, will share their perspectives and insights, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Editor and Co-founder of MobiHealthNews, Brian Dolan. The esteemed group of speakers we’ll be hosting include Dr. John Moore from the New Media Medicine Group at MIT Media Lab , Jeremy Gilbert, Head of Commercial Product at PatientsLikeMe, Anand Iyer, President and COO of WellDoc and Bill Hartman, Director of Research at Essential.

Hear what some of leading organizations in the industry are up to. Add your perspective and be part of the conversation at the event that’s sure to inspire and inform.

More information and registration here.

Can’t attend the April 4th program? Follow every exciting moment live using hashtag #FutureHC or follow @_Essential.


Soylent Word Processing

The semantic web is a term that’s often used on the internet to describe the what will be the next “Web 3.0”,where machines will be able to understand the meaning of text/media and make connections for the user. As a method/technology this idea seems very far out, but I ran across this project at MIT which takes an more present day approach to the idea, and I think hints at what a semantic web could look like. Soylent is a Microsoft Word add-in which embeds on demand human decision making, in order to perform three main tasks; Shortening text (Cut down text without meaning loss) Crowdproofing( Proofreading) Human Macro Task (Define, change tense of an article, find references which are out of date, find images which complement text)

Click to read more ...


Microsoft Kinect, opened up

Mashable links to Ifixit who got their hands on a Kinect and have systematically (with photographs and video) taken it apart for us to see the guts of the device.


It's interesting to see the component parts of the device that is at the center of Microsoft's huge undertaking (they have allotted $1 billion for the marketing of this new peripheral). This is a giant gamble by Microsoft, who are trying to capture an even bigger share of the more casual gaming market that Nintendo currently dominates with their Wii (Sony is also trying their hand at this with the launch of the Move motion controller). The major difference between the Kinect and both the Nintendo and Sony offerings though, is that there is no additional controller needed.

In terms of interaction, this is a major step forward as the gestural interface we see in our mobile and personal computing devices has now found its way into our living room. While the jury is still out over the Kinect itself, the number of people who will now have access to a gestural interface will increase incredibly. And while I'm not sure why Microsoft would jeopardize what is, in my opinion, the best thing they make, it's a gutsy move and one that continues our collective march to the future we all envisioned as kids.


Ethnomethodology is neat

On Wednesday I attended a talk given by Bob Moore (Senior Research Scientist at Yahoo). He is a former Xerox PARC researcher, and currently does the bulk of Yahoo's exploratory research on internet experiences. He used an ethnomethodological approach, and conversation analysis to explore how a single user interacts with a computer, specifically using search engines. Ethnomethodology seeks to find accountable actions and interactions in "doing something." Rather than seeking to interpret the particular event, it attempts to describe the sequence of orderly actions that take place to complete "doing something". This approach requires more rigor in data capture (everything must be recorded), and analysis (conversation analysis is often done, which requires transcription and coding).

Click to read more ...


Samsung Galaxy Tab

iPad competitor or smartphone on steroids?

So Apple has had quite a run with the iPad, with competitors pretty slow to respond.  Samsung recently introduced the Galaxy Tab in Europe, and the media has anointed it as the first real competition the iPad will face.  I was recently interviewed for an article in Product Design and Development Magazine comparing the two, and in preparing for that discussion, I came away thinking the comparison is off the mark.  These two products are different enough in form factor and configuration to cater to different uses.  The larger question may be, "Is there a market for both form factors to thrive, or will one win out.  Perhaps the best solution is somewhere in between.

The Galaxy Tab is an Android based slate with a 7" screen, will be offered initially only with wifi AND 3-G (requiring another cell carrier commitment), and has camera and phone functionality included.  This sounds more like a mobile productivity tool.




The iPad's success to this point seems to be largely based on it's appeal as a lifestyle product, with a larger screen and size (web browsing, shopping, video watching, e-reader, photo browsing, sharing, etc.) and is selling mostly in wi-fi configuration.

Here are some of the key differences, head to head:

Where Galaxy Tab exceeds iPad:

  • Portability – 40% smaller, 50% lighter
  • Integrated cameras – for still image video capture/ videoconferencing
  • Phone functionality - At least in Europe; Apparently not to be offered in US
  • Flexibility -  I/O options, storage expandibility, Android ecosystem open-ness
  • Speed -  512mb Ram vs 256mb (Big deal?)
  • Web browsing experience – More seamless due to Adobe Flash support

Where iPad exceeds Galaxy Tab:

  • Viewing experience – 40% larger display means more functional and communal in sedentary situations
  • Optimized OS - Android Froyo 2.2 is squarely a phone OS that has not been optimized for the tablet form factor
  • Quality and consistencly of experience - Rock solid, tightly managed OS and app ecosystem, producing a seamless user experience accross multiple product types
  • Head start in market – Well known incumbent vs newbie to the category
  • Depth and breadth of apps – Again, the head start has created many advantages, but the gap is closing
  • Depth and breadth of content – polished store experience
  • Battery capacity - 30% more run time


For those interested in digging a little deeper, here is a quick comparitive overview of each product, compiled by Mark B and Michael J, and my notes framed up as answers to four very basic questions the editor planned to ask in the interview.  I'd love to hear others' opinions on this.


User Experience Deliverables

Most people still give you a blank stare when you talk about User Experience (UX), but in terms of the details, this post over at UX Booth gives a great overview of the kinds of deliverables you can expect from anyone engaged in UX to produce.

They made a lovely diagram too: