Better late than never, I hope! Between travel and the onset of a nasty cold, I didn’t get to this post as quickly after the end of HxRefactored as I’d planned. Day 2 of HxR flew by even more quickly than Day 1 despite being, technically speaking, longer. The day was bookended by keynotes with topic-specific panels in between. Shockingly, I spent my day hunkered down at the Behavior Change panels hearing about the latest and greatest in the area.Despite a diverse set of speakers with varying focus on technology versus design, a few clear themes emerged from the day’s talks. These included:
Clearing out the (emotional) cobwebs. Health tends to be intertwined with emotion, and that emotion is often negative, especially if people are sick or struggling to pay medical bills. Because talking about negative emotion is uncomfortable, we avoid doing it. But that can backfire. Dr. Adrienne Boissy of the Cleveland Clinic talked about provider and caregiver burnout, and how failure to discuss the difficulties of caregiving can contribute to this process. On the other hand, Geri Lynn Baumblatt of Emmi Solutions showed several examples where education tackling embarrassing or uncomfortable issues head-on leads to better patient outcomes.
Clearing out the (technical) cobwebs. Emotions aren’t the only messy part of healthcare. Technology has a dark side too. Shahid Shah of Netspective spoke about how organizational dynamics can influence decisions about technology in a non-evidence-based direction, leading to poor experiences for users. Even more frightening, Harri Hursti of Zyptonite pointed out the many ways technology can be exploited. Connected health offers great opportunity but also great danger.
Motivation is personal. By this point, everyone knows I subscribe to this newsletter. There is no one thing that is equally motivating to all people. We share an underlying fundamental set of needs, but what actually gets us going within any one of those categories is personal. Several of the panelists (Sherry Pagoto, Ciara Taylor, Samantha Dempsey, and Virgil Wong) talked about ways to better connect with personal motivation, whether it’s via social media, stories, games, or realistic 3-d images of your own body subject to the ravages of time. Geri Baumblatt showed compelling evidence how patient education that feels personal makes a greater impact (fulfilling relatedness needs), while David Hoke of Walmart shared details of a wellness program that’s all about personalizing the experience to individual needs.
Perspective matters. The last panel I attended before returning to keynotes was on diabetes and motivation. It was moderated by Ashley Boyd, who has Type 1 diabetes, and one of the panelists, Susan Mercer, has Type 2 diabetes. It was fascinating to hear their experiences in counterpoint to the academic and medical experts sitting alongside them. Even though Ashley and Susan both have more expertise about motivation than your average patient, they don’t live their diabetes in textbook fashion. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reminders that theory and practice aren’t mirror images. Bottom line? We have to talk and listen to patients and users if we want to actually help them.
Clean hands count. Thanks to a very memorable floormat provided for the men’s room by Involution Studios, hand hygiene will also be top of mind whenever I think of HxR 2016. I choose not to think about why the floor mat was only provided for the men’s room.