Q&A: HxD conference co-founder Amy Cueva talks user-centered design

As health IT evolves and matures, focus is shifting, if sometimes slowly, from checklists of technical specs to broader challenges related to technology design and usability.


At the Healthcare Experience Design (HxD) conference, which is sponsored by Portsmouth, N.H.-based experience design firm Mad*Pow and takes place March 24-26 in Boston, designers, technologists, product managers and entrepreneurs will explore the ways healthcare and design intertwine, looking for ways to improve the digital interactions of patients and providers alike.


Healthcare IT News spoke with Mad*Pow co-founder and chief experience officer Amy Cueva about the conference, and about the challenges of user-centered design.


Q: Tell me a bit about yourself, and a bit about Mad*Pow.


A: I went to art school, and then got into graphic design. I was the only art student who also took calculus. I’m very left brain/analytical, but have the right brain/creative side, too. I went from graphic design to Web design to information architecture and usability, into what is now user experience and experience design.


The reason that that resonated with me was that it really is a perfect blend of left and right brain thinking. You have to analyze a situation and then come up with creative ways to work with it.


Mad*Pow hired its first employee in 2006, and now we’re more than 50 people. It’s an experience design agency. What we do is the research, to understand what a business or organization needs, what defines success for them, and then design the solution, which is typically digital. When I say “design,” I mean interaction design, info architecture, workflow. Then we do a usability test on the design to make sure that it works, that it’s going to be easy to use and meaningful, and derive the sort of results that the business or organization is looking to achieve.



What we’re seeing happening a lot now is that, we work with big corporations across the healthcare spectrum and within other industries. The organizations we’ve worked with have grown a lot over the years and now they’re very siloed. You have one part of the organization handling customer service, the other sales. One owns the public website, the other owns the secure one. Different lines of businesses are sending email communications. And so, when it comes to the customer experience, there’s been many different parties managing it.


What we’re doing now, more and more, is partnering up with the executive level to say, “What is the state of our customer experience, or patient experience, or employee experience or partner experience? And how do we improve that across channels? When a customer gets an email or goes to a mobile site, how do we get those experiences to coordinate with each other and be considerate of each other so they’re incrementally getting customers in the direction where they’re going to be satisfied and the organization is going to get those results?”


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