Human-Centered Design For Healthcare - mayo Center for Innovation

Human-centered Solutions For Patients’ Chronic Conditions

Post Written By Haley Pysick

As of 2012, nearly half of the adults in the United States have developed one or more chronic conditions. Diseases are typically classified as chronic when they have persisted for more than three months and can be treated, but not necessarily cured. Some of the most common chronic conditions include diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. In developing a chronic condition, people tend to also acquire a unique set of medical needs. Because chronic conditions are always present (whether the symptoms are displayed or not), monitoring and assessing the disease becomes a necessary part of the person’s daily life. Given the volume of people suffering from a chronic condition, finding ways to create easy, user-friendly methods of tracking patient’s data is a valuable asset to the medical field. At Transform 2015, a number of speakers presented creative ways in which patients can manage their chronic conditions. A common theme among the presentations was better connecting patients and healthcare providers through streamlined methods such as apps and wearable technologies.

One of the portions of Transform was the ThinkBig Challenge, which was formatted into in a retro “dating” competition. One of the segments, labelled “I am not my disease,” was a competition between companies to provide the best solutions and innovations for people with chronic illnesses. The first “contestant” was Livongo health, currently aimed at helping people with diabetes. The company’s purpose is to simplify the management of diabetes by streamlining the data transferred between the patient and the provider. They also advertised “giving the numbers context,” meaning there is more to the patient’s health than just concrete numbers. While the company did not end up winning the challenge, their product and service received positive feedback from many at the conference. Another contestant in the ThinkBig Challenge was physIQ, an early warning system for serious health events like heart attacks and respiratory exacerbation. The monitoring is done using band aid-like sensors that learn the patients’ physiology and establishes a baseline. It has been shown that the early detection monitoring has helped identify events 6 - 17 days prior to hospitalization. Considering the rates of serious diseases like heart disease in our country, having a way to warn patients and their health providers of a possible flare could save countless lives. Furthermore, it can allow people with certain chronic conditions to feel more secure about their health, and enable them to focus on other parts of their lives. Finally, the winner of the ThinkBig challenge (and the recipient of $50,000!) was Wellpepper. The Seattle based company centers its services around digital patient treatment plans. A major selling point is that their service was tested in a clinical study by Boston University’s Center for Neurorehabilitation. The results were deemed both valid and promising. Patients and healthcare providers that use Wellpepper can help better relay medical information to patients, streamline patient reporting, and lower care costs across the board. As the winner of the ThinkBig Challenge, Wellpepper convinced guests at Transform that their product could serve patients with chronic conditions in the most fitting way.

While Wellpepper came out as #1 in the “I am not my disease” segment, all three of the contestants displayed nothing short of compassion and empathy for people with chronic conditions. Thanks to their motivation, as well as countless other organizations around the country, people with chronic conditions get the chance to take a step back from their condition and focus on other parts of their lives. The healthcare field is finally reaching a turning point where we recognize that disease does not equal identity.