Here in Chicago and everywhere else, it is the end of the year and the beginning of the next. Maybe it’s the combination of negative–one-degree weather outside my office window, the purple knit blanket wrapped around my legs grandma-style, and the “breakfast” I have made for myself of various leftover holiday treats this morning, but there is something about this time of year that makes me really appreciate how it stands out from the rest. This is such a wonderful time for quiet reflection, for not-quiet-at-all time with family, and for other important things like getting that inbox down to zero (good luck!). But mostly for reflection. On tradition. On what we’ve learned over the past year, of what we hope to learn over the next. On joy. On pain. On sunshine. On rain.
One recent reflection that stands out to me this holiday season is just how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of these end-of-the-year trends articles that fill up all our digital stockings just like the tiny, often cheaply made trinkets that fill the real stockings on our mantles. Just like the gritty “chocolate” that passes for gelt these days. Just like those impossible-to-clean-up, confetti-filled party favors people pop to celebrate the new year. Year-end trends posts are just like all those perfect for-the-moment-and-not-much-more amusements. Ten minutes of my vague attention and some fun link clicking (yeah for dopamine!) amidst the clutter of ripped-up wrapping paper and little kids buzzing with excitement from too much sugar and exposure to new plastic.
A wise man one taught me that if you love somebody, you should set them free. Aiming for mild amusement, here are some of my favorite healthcare design trends from this year for your momentary consideration as you take a break from scrubbing those holiday casserole dishes soaking in the sink, from battling with the maddening packaging almost every new toy seems to come in (now I need mini-Phillip’s head screwdriver just to get this thing out of the packaging?! Really?!), or from staying awake for your great aunt’s seemingly endless story about her last surgery and how easy it was to convince the airlines that this was her “service” dog.
• The value of the vertical: Whether it’s CVS and Aetna, Cleveland Clinic and Oscar Health, UnitedHealth Group and Surgical Care Affiliates, or Humana and Kindred, 2017 turned into the year of the vertical business model design in healthcare. Proving that value-focused care reimbursement is here to stay, insurers and providers merged with each other this year to ensure that their business models were well designed for the healthcare marketplace of the future. Your insurance company doesn’t own its own providers? Your hospital doesn’t own its own insurance company? How 2016 of you…
• 3-D printing lends a hand: Healthcare providers and technologists continued to expand the clinical possibilities of 3-D printing of prosthetics in 2017. No better story illustrates this than the story of 7-year-old Hailey Dawson, who threw out the opening pitch at Game 4 of this year’s World Series. Born with a rare condition that caused her to have an underdeveloped right hand, a traditional prosthetic didn’t make much sense for Hailey based on her age and the intensive growth our bodies go through during childhood. So Hailey’s mother connected with Brandon O’Toole, chair of the mechanical engineering department at University of Las Vegas Nevada. O’Toole and his team were able to design a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand that would be able to be adjusted as Hailey aged, and which was manufactured for roughly a quarter of the cost of a traditional prosthetic using open source software – surely a home run for Hailey and her family.
• How may we help you, Siri? As more and more healthcare companies integrate artificial intelligence into their socio-technical environment, the ability to design for optimal computer-computer interaction will continue to grow in importance. As this late November piece from Co.Design describes it, we are entering the age of Centaur Design, in which software designers must optimize their products’ design to combine the best of human intelligence and artificial intelligence in the service of better experiences for the end user. Are you comfy, Alexa? Can I get you some canned oxygen?
• Are mimosas the proper drink for an egg social? As more women choose to delay childbirth until their careers are established, more women are choosing to freeze their eggs. Some fertility clinics have started hosting “egg socials” for women looking to learn more about the procedure, its benefits and its risks, opening up new doors to potential brunch conversations across the country.
• What’s up, Doc? With the dizzying changes to every aspect of healthcare over the past decade, clinicians are finding themselves burnt out, impacting their joy of practice, affecting their relationship with their patients, and increasing the likelihood of medical errors. This past October, the World Medical Association updated the Hippocratic Oath, adding a requirement for physicians to “attend to their own health, well-being and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.” Will clinicians make sure to heal thyself in 2018?
There you go. Five signals from 2017 for the noise in 2018. Will these trends continue? Will they open new doors and new possibilities for patients and providers? Will they prove to be enduring, or just a fine display of reading too much into the random articles I decided to bookmark this year?
Visit the HIMSS18 website to learn about the health information and technology trends attendees will hear about at the HIMSS Annual Conference in March.