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Innovative Health Technology Launches at Health 2.0, User Experience Still Lacking

| 10.27.2015

Our favorite solutions from this year’s Health 2.0 conference Launch session all covered very different angles of the healthcare industry. The following solutions, which launched at Health 2.0, are ones that, although their designs still need refining, we think have strong potential to be successful based on their innovative concepts.

  • Gliimpse – aggregates all your healthcare services (primary care physician, pharmacy, dentist, O.B., etc.) into a single health record. Think of it like a Mint for healthcare, a solution that gives you a comprehensive view of your health history. You can view results from tests in visual format and drill down to see the history. You can take notes on things you want to discuss with your doctor, and upload images or documents and then share your record with your doctor or a family member. Although we found their UI still needed work, the concept is one that we think the market is ready for.
  • Vivor – helps people with cancer find and connect with financial aid programs in order to find funding for cancer treatments. As medical care costs skyrocket and less people are able to afford expensive treatments, we think this service will help give some patients ease of mind that there is financial help out there and they have it at their fingertips.
  • Sensentia – How many times have you had to scroll through endless PDF files to figure out if a treatment was included in your health plan? Sensentia is an interactive tool that not only gives a natural language explanation of your insurance benefits but also tracks your usage and deductibles. Users can search in natural terms, like “Is physiotherapy covered in my plan?” and get a relevant answer. We think this type of self-service solution will appeal to users and can succeed as long as the user interaction is smooth.
  • MedWand – In the realm of health-on-demand apps, we think MedWand is an interesting one to watch. Patients can communicate with their providers via video and, with the help of a device called MedWand that they keep at home, doctors can take their patients’ vitals and assess their eyes, ears, nose, and throat remotely. The key to their success will be to move away from just focusing on the hardware and also in becoming a viable option for providers, who are still finding virtual visits to be less efficient. Nailing the UX for patients so that they use the device correctly will also be key. 

In spite of these very innovative ideas, as Dr. Robert Wachter pointed out during his presentation, the lack of user centered design is the biggest issue in healthcare tech at the moment. Although some players like Accordion Health and Athena Health clearly get the importance of design, and it shows, most of the healthcare tech industry has some catching up to do.

Top Healthcare Tech Trends From Health 2.0 2015

| 10.21.2015

A team from Urban Design and Planning Company attended Health 2.0 2015 earlier this month and the first thing that was obvious was a decreased presence of wearables and devices from last year’s conference. This year was more about  innovative ideas on how to leverage the data that comes from all these new devices, as well as consumer solutions that offer patients health-on-demand, and solutions for providers that aim to alleviate the hassle of administrative tasks, such as entering information into medical records.

Some of the trends we observed at this year’s Health 2.0:

  • Big data…what now?

Big data was the big craze last year and at Health 2.0 2014 we found that companies were focused on the technical discussions around how to handle all this new data and integrate it with existing healthcare systems. Providers were not enthusiastic with the prospect of more patient data, but tech companies were up for the challenge and went ahead and built a myriad apps to analyze all of the health care data out there such as Ayasdi, Sentrian, and Healthline. Technical hurdles have indeed been overcome, however, we feel that the user’s perspective was missing from these solutions.  What are users supposed to do with all this new, aggregated data? Accordion Health was one of the rare standouts in this space, taking a very user focused approach to data analysis.

Also, the availability of new data sources raises a number of design (and ethical) questions. When a patient’s data from his wearable device is added to his chart, the patient will expect the caregivers to be able to digest and make sense of all this new data, alongside, say, his EKG. But who is responsible for this data and who is looking at it? Should doctors be trained to analyze this data? Is it too much information? Are some apps just collecting data for data’s sake?

  • Health-on-demand

This year we saw a surge in the number of apps that facilitate the care provider coming to you, either via text or video, like MedWand, Doctor on Demand, and VSee. While serving a patient need, providing convenience and timely access to care, the challenge ahead with these services is on the provider side who report that these virtual visits are, in fact, taking longer than office visits. With a 30% shortfall in primary care providers these days, these services could be putting a stress in the system instead of doing the opposite.

The question is, why are remote visits taking longer and how can they be improved? We also haven’t seen any data on adoption rates of these services nor how effective they are at addressing patient needs, aside from the increased convenience.Inflatable Bounce House

  • Provider focused apps

At a time when providers are spending 44% of their time recording notes and data into EHRs, it is high time that people look more closely at this problem. One band-aid solution we heard was the use of Google glass to record patient visits which are then entered into EHR through trained transcribers. Augmedix was a good example of this. 

However, the real culprit here is horrible EHR UIs. In fact, Dr. Robert Wachter, the keynote on Day 2 noted that one hospital advertising for a doctor stated that they don’t have an EHR as a value add.  A couple of our favorite EHRs at Health 2.0 2015 were EMA from Modern Medicine, an iPad app for visually entering patient data during patient visits, and Athena Health’s new secure texting app integrated into it’s Clinicals product.  However, most of the products we saw demoed had so much potential to be better. The question here is when will the time spent on bad technology interactions be so egregious that mainstream companies like Epic and eClinicalWorks (who, by the way, demoed a new UI that was “eh” at best) will be forced to spend money on creating a great user experience because their customer base has rebelled.

Overall, while some companies have identified compelling solutions to real problems in the healthcare industry, we did leave this conference with the unsettling feeling that healthcare doesn’t get UX…yet!

User experience design, a practice that has been around for decades, applies research methodologies to look at how to best design products that users will actually use – a simple but powerful concept. There are challenges, but I am optimistic that things are changing and the next gen solutions will put the needs of patients and providers at the center of their products.


Read more on our Health 2.0 takeaways: Innovative Health Technology Launches at Health 2.0, User Experience Still Lacking