A New Everyday Fabric

A New Everyday Fabric

By Susan E. Williams

Ontario based TVO, an educational media broadcaster has produced a new series: TVOpull (@TheAgenda) which concentrates on how technology is changing human interactions in various fields, including health care. In part of the series, Scott Stropkay talks about the interplay between design and health care.

Integrating good design with innovative technologies to encourage behavior change is trickier than it seems. Like Apple’s stealth, the design and functionality needed for a technology to effortlessly integrate into one’s everyday world must be exquisite. Bulky shapes, sticky screens, and overly complex user experience will get as far as it takes to get frustrated – for me, that’s a fast and hard transition. It’s fantastic that all these sensory t-shirts, bandaids, gadgets and gizmos are being developed, financially backed, promoted, bought, and played with. There’s a sparkly Health Care Innovation Sandbox that is increasingly becoming more and more crowded with eager and young entrepreneurs, thought leaders, physicians, and investors. Those who make it – those lucky few – without doubt incorporated excellent design.

This includes information design. All that data that is being collected  needs to be synthesized and reflected back to the user. It needs to be comprehensive and easily digestible in order to encourage healthy choices and behavior modification, which of course lead to better living (less stress, better eating, more exercise, etc).

WellKit is one health care startup that promises to do just that. WellKit encourages users to track their everyday activities, including medications, sleep, water intake, exercise, pain levels, emotional states, etc. All this data is compiled into comprehensive charts for clinicians to interact with and better prescribe integral approaches to various chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia. The data organization has been designed by CEO and Co-Founder, Sandra Eisert, a pioneer in information architecture (she designed MSNBC’s first website EVER and the basic layout for organizing all the data remained in place for over ten years).

Glow, a fertility app, is another startup that presents to its users an experience that is entirely based on data algorithms, but because of the design you would never know. The design engages and encourages couples as they embark on fertility tracking.  Both of these companies, and others like them, understand that how we use the information is just as important as how we gather and synthesize the information. If health care technologies are meant to increase patient involvement and proactivity, data must be easily read by the patient.

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