Mad Pow and Design Thinking in Healthcare [Interview][Transcript]

Amy_Cueva_mad_powGuest: Amy Cueva
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Amy Cueva believes that design can help improve the human condition. It was with that mission and vision that she founded Mad*Pow in 2000 with Will Powley, and together they’ve created an award-winning agency serving Fortune 500 companies and startups across industries from health to financial services, technology, media, education, and hospitality.

Segment overview: Mad*Pow’s visualization of a changed healthcare system in the United States, has helped them improve the customer experience, leverage design to drive change, and facilitate human-centric innovation. Mad*Pow has successfully connected and networked disparate parts of a challenging and siloed system, creating experiences to guide patients through their navigation of the system, designing platforms for clinicians to collaborate around care and treatment, or partnering with a cutting-edge healthcare technology company to bring their vision to life.


Health Professional Radio – Mad-Pow

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, an Health Supplier Segment. I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guest in studio today is Ms. Amy Cueva, Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Mad*Pow, noticed I said Chief Experience Officer not Chief Executive. How are you doing this afternoon Amy?

Amy Cueva I’m doing wonderful. Thank you so much for having me.

N: Now Mad*Pow, an intriguing name for a company. I understand you’re a design agency that improves the experiences that people have with technology, organizations and each other. Talk about Mad*Pow and design thinking.

A: Wonderful. So right, from the…design firm and we seek to improve technology and improve customer experiences and the most of our… is called Human Center Design and the core belief behind Human Center Design is to involve the people who will be affected by the solutions we create in the process of creating them. So it’s very inclusive and we also leverage design thinking. And so Design Thinking is basically a different program or approach for solving business problems, clinical problems. It’s a creative approach, it involves collaboration between interdisciplinary teams, it’s…and health organizations are now embracing design thinking and human centered design and a new way to help us improve patient experiences, leverage technology, innovate and basically improve the situation. So that’s what we’re doing in health, we are definitely designing tools and products and improving the usability and interface to make sure they’re more intuitive and less frustrating and more effective, but we’re also leveraging design to improve processes, workflows, organizational culture, leaning emphases for the people we serve into the DNA of the organization in such that it informs the strategy, the direction and the decision making process a better organization.

N: So it sounds like you’re looking and aiming to improve almost every aspect of not only healthcare but business in general and I’m assuming the business of healthcare you’re deeply involved in changing that dynamic as well especially with the changes in healthcare that we’ve seen in the last couple of years.

A: Yeah. So our purpose of an organization is to improve health, help people achieve financial well-being, help them learn and help them connect and that mission gets us really fired up and there’s so much opportunity to improve the situation especially in health because to your point, the patient right now is left in the center of a very disconnected ecosystem to navigate it on their own and that leads to frustrations, gaps, unmet needs and opportunities and so what we do is try to help the organizations improve the way that they’re delivering experiences to patients and what we’re seeing right now, for health organizations with that they’re kind of putting innovation off to the side and struggling to integrate it into the way they do business being that they’re large…organization who’ve been around for long time and this new approach leveraging technology innovation and being…and focusing on the customer, it’s new so we’re helping organizations on that growth…

N: Do you help organizations, not only help themselves but design technology for themselves, say developing apps, things of that nature or different strategies for training their people as you see necessary in your evaluation of their situation?

A: Yeah, it’s such a good question. We help at product design as well as organizational design and training and the products we’re working on are to help patients care for themselves and change their behaviors. If you think about it, we only see our doctor for an average of minutes per visit if we’re lucky, so we’re in a lobby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year … primary care physician and technology provides the opportunity that connect people with the resources, the tools and the support that they need to actually care for themselves, you can do a lot around inspiring motivation and designing for behavior change, helping people with condition management, helping them to lose weight, eat better, look at their mood and their sleep, there’s such an opportunity to leverage technology in that regard, there’s so much experimentation happening.

N: Now, let’s talk about Health 2.0 and just yesterday, I understand, a press release where Mad*Pow has announced the final agenda for the HxRefactored 2016 Conference to be held in Boston. Talk about that conference and Health 2.0.

A: Yeah, absolutely. So six years ago we founded a conference dedicated to exploring how human centered design could improve health and then 3 years ago we partnered with health… to expand that to not just design but technology as well. So how do we understand the people that we serve and their needs? How do we envision the better experience for them? And then how do we leverage technology to actually…that experience? And so the conference gathers together over 600 people in the industry from entrepreneurs to executive designers, researchers, strategists, product people, clinicians, patients. Anybody who believe that we need to look at experience and innovation and that design and technology can help us get there. So the next conference is April 5th and 6th in Boston and we’re going to be working at like behavior change and organizational design and fostering cultures, innovation, creativity and collaboration. We’ll be working at self-care for Diabetes, designing for mental health and well-being and addiction recovery. Looking at how to improve clinical experience and clinicians that right now bugged down with using technology that are very frustrating kind of getting in the way of their jobs so looking at that. And we’re also in tech stuff and big data and the latest and greatest things going on in health tech. We’re really excited though about the conference will be running designing boards, design challenges, looking at interesting problems, phases like redesigning medical bills or looking at how do we tackle the opioid addiction epidemic and we actually we’ll be announcing a couple of really exciting keynotes coming up. So that… should be fantastic.

N: Great, great. Now, as we wrap up. Talk about some of the misconceptions about integrating technology to not only healthcare but business and this design thinking. Talk about some of the misconceptions that Mad*Pow is striving to dispel.

A: Yeah. I love your question because really if an organization in seeking to improve health and that’s their mission, there’s many ways they can bring that to life. They can bring into life through policy, through process, through focusing on empathy training for their people, they can do it through redesigning website to be improved your providing tools and so that’s what I call it experiential innovation and it can guide and shape their product and service offering. But, were company…focused on because technology is a thread to everything, they’re establishing digital organizations and that’s great, but technology doesn’t always provide us with the answer, it certainly helps but it shouldn’t be our focus. We have an industry where we can have shiny object syndrome where “Oh, the latest gadget or app or emerging technology, we need that”. Let’s figure out how to use it but sometimes those things don’t address the unmet needs and the frustration moves in and the opportunity is present. So through experiential innovation, design thinking and human center design we can really look to address the real needs of the people we serve such as we can deliver real meaning and value and the context of their lives.
N: Where on the web can we get more information about Mad*Pow and the upcoming conference?

A: Right. So about Mad*Pow and then Hxrefactored for the conference.

N: Great. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio talking with Amy Cuevo, Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Mad*Pow. Now Amy believes that design can help improve the human condition and as with that mission and vision that she found in Mad*Pow back in 2000 with Will Powley and together they’ve created an award winning agency serving Fortune Five Hundred companies to start ups across industries from Health to Financial Services, Technology, Media, Education and Hospitality as well. It’s been great having you here with us this afternoon Amy.

A: Thank you so much.

N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe through our podcast on iTunes.

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