Last week I attended my second HIMSS conference. For those of you unfamiliar with the meeting (I was prior to that), HIMSS is one of the largest HealthIT conferences out there. Last year I was absolutely blown away by the exhibit hall of vendors that went on for miles. To give you a sense of how large it was, the exhibit booths went from 0 to 9000…I never made it to the end.
Conference goers navigate their way through the exhibit hall, which is chock full of sales people armed with swag, ready to sell you their technology, and represents millions upon millions of dollars spent to do so.
Our friends at Oneview Healthcare saw the opportunity to do something different, and instead of spending hundreds of thousands on a booth, decided to open up their space to us and create more of a makerspace. Oneview sponsored our 2018 Co-op Drive, so Claire, Oneview’s Marketing Manager, called me up to see if Savvy Cooperative would like to share their space. I immediately said yes — “I’m going to set up a valentine making station!”
It struck me that in the 9000 booths about health technology, how many were giving people a chance for human connection?
Armed with about $100 in supplies and my faithful Savvy Puppets, I headed to Orlando and set up our space. We were a scrappy little table, dwarfed by those around us. There were no overhead banners (or butterflies in Epic’s case), coffee or happy hour bars, magicians (for real), or a mock ambulance.
People would lock eyes on our booth and smile and ask “what is this?!” Something about puppets and an arts and crafts table is disarming. It didn’t take them long to feel at ease. What I learned after four days of gluing hearts on doilies is that people were really craving human connection. People said we had the best booth in the joint, but I think what they meant is it was addressing an unmet need.
You learn a lot when you stand and cut construction paper with someone. People shared their healthcare stories about their parent with cancer they were taking care of, or how they recently moved so their child could be closer to a new hospital. I learned about their work as well, how one team is convening an innovation conference at a children’s hospital, another developing a chatbot for post-surgery patients. And through making valentines, I also learned about the children’s gymnastic meet they were missing back home, their spouse who came with them to spend the holiday, or the co-worker that saved their a$$ helping them meet a deadline.
It struck me that in the 9000 booths about health technology, how many were giving people a chance for human connection? And beyond just HIMSS, how is technology enhancing our ability to connect? Connecting to your health record is great (believe me, it’s great), but how can we better leverage technology to bring people together, either virtually or in person?
Perhaps I’m biased. What we do at Savvy Cooperative is bring patients and industry or academic professionals together so they can actively communicate in order to co-design new solutions. We believe we can build superior products and services for patients if we better understand their lives, their challenges and their priorities.
We facilitate this by connecting companies with patients to participate in surveys, focus groups, interviews, discussion boards, user-testing and other activities. In fact, patients give us feedback that some of their favorite gigs are design research projects that have them do activities that challenge them to talk about or convey their patient experience in creative ways (similar to activities like making valentines!), so hat tip to design researchers out there.
Making valentines with conference goers only emphasized that people wanted to share what was going on in their lives, and that they wanted to do something kind for someone else. I hope we can make more space to give people these invaluable opportunities to share, support and innovate with each other in healthcare.
I hope we can make more space to give people these invaluable opportunities to share, support and innovate with each other in healthcare.
We encouraged people to make valentines for others, some chose to make one to give to someone they knew, whereas others added to the collection we had hanging up of notes that showed how they or their company showed their #love4patients. Here are a few shots of them…
Savvy Cooperative accelerates the development of patient-centered products and solutions by providing a gig economy marketplace for patient insights. Companies and innovators can connect directly with diverse patients and consumers to participate in market research, user-testing, discussion boards and co-design opportunities. Using a unique co-op model, Savvy Cooperative is the first patient-owned platform that empowers patients to use their health experiences to advance research, resources and product development. For more information about Savvy Cooperative, please visit www.savvy.coop and follow Savvy Coop on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.