The Healthcare Experience Design Conference took place over a week ago in Boston and we’ve taken some time out to process our learnings.

The focus of the conference centered mainly on behavioral design and big data–Themes that aren’t surprising given the trajectory of wellness apps of late. In fact, the two themes go hand-in-hand: A growing accessibility of big data should beget a good look at behavioral design, and well-crafted behavioral design should beget meaningful use of data.

But I want to push the conversation in yet another direction. While the main conference sessions focused on the aforementioned themes, the case studies presented in an adjacent ballroom spoke of analog applications for experience design.

Jessical Floeh, founder of Hanky Pancreas, talked about her series of fashionable products for wearable diabetes technologies–Could a social model be a more effective way to increase disease management? Patients are people and yet, many products and solutions are designed through a clinical lens, sufficing medical parameters but often forgetting the person at the center of the experience.

Health is not just a medical issue. -Meredith Dezutter, Senior Service Designer at the Mayo Clinic

David Rose, founder of GlowCaps and instructor at MIT Media Lab, challenged the growing obsession with everything mobile. Mobile apps have limitations and perhaps, the opportunity is to look at everyday objects surrounding us instead. Furniture, for example, has incredible advantages over mobility, including durability, the affordance of natural gestures, and glanceability. Case in point: The energy clock could tell time in addition to our energy consumption habits. So then, how could we “appify” everyday objects to serve our needs, particularly in healthcare?

On the train ride to the conference with me in analog, Benjamin in digital–Both valid approaches and both so necessary depending on context. Could even this be tied into our healthcare experience?

On the train ride to the conference with me in analog, Benjamin in digital–Both valid approaches and both so necessary depending on context. Could even this be tied into our healthcare experience?

We’re people first and patients second. We’re children, we’re adults, we’re elderly. We’re women, we’re men. We’re athletes, we’re lovers. – Amy Tenderich, Founder and Editor of DiabetesMine

The patient experience is evolving in radical ways and the focus on big data is certainly an influential factor in this shift. But the more significant takeaway from my conference experience is that data is a medium, and our opportunities for healthcare delivery actually lie in considering our audience as people first and patients second.