By James Driscoll

SVP, Director, User Engagement

Radius HX – A Division of Concentric Health Experience


James Driscoll


Although SXSW 2016 lacked a major platform launch, it did further the tech discussion in key areas. Amid the sensory overload that descended on Austin, a few themes emerged that gave us an indication of where we are now and where we may be going in the not-too-distant future.

Design doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

The more that companies embrace design culture, the more they thrive. This was the theme underlying John Maeda’s “Design in Tech Report for 2016.”

The intersection of engagement, design, and development is an ideal that spawned Radius HX, so it was interesting to see how many design firms have been purchased in the last two years. Tech giants like Google and Facebook have recently made large investments in design culture.

The bevy of panel discussions about the future of wearable technology made clear how important it will be to embrace design that is meaningful to the end user. Hearing Scott Kaiser, MD and David Rhew, MD of Samsung speculate about the home as the health hub of the future made me reevaluate how we approach our audience as marketers.

Too often in digital marketing, we define a problem—and come up with a solution—without visualizing the full customer experience. The customer journey is the complete engagement with our brands that users and caregivers experience both off and online. Our ability to visualize, define, and design that experience helps us create the emotional connection that we want people to share.

With design as the vehicle, we will create the brand experiences that people desire: those that make their lives easier through integration.

Staying connected at home and on the go.

Wearables and virtual reality have been on the scene for some time now, and we’re now beginning to see a more connected approach to bringing patients, payers, and physicians together.

Advances in virtual reality are a potential boon for physicians. Leslie Saxton from the USC Center of Body Computing showed how an integrated platform combining data analytics, wearable technology, and social listening can be used to reduce physician work time by up to 60%.

“The USC Virtual Care Clinic does not require patients or care providers to be present in the same place affording both participants a seamless service for on-demand interaction.” (USC Virtual Care Clinic website)

Doctors can focus their time on the neediest patients and stay in contact with others by smartphone. Simpler tasks can be handled through a virtual reality doctor and story telling.

One of the surprise benefits of the virtual reality doctor is that patients tend to be more honest with the VR doctor than they are with their human doctor! This can improve treatment in important areas like medication adherence.

With advances in VR and native connectivity, I can easily see an integrated brand interface that would help drive adherence while creating a positive brand experience for the patient.

Predictions, Behavioral Health, and Bioelectronics are the Future.

As they have in recent years, health and wellness took center stage. The prime difference this year was there was more focus on predictive outcomes, and healthy lifestyles.

A perennial frustration of physicians is that they too often see patients only when an event occurs. What if, instead, doctors could analyze patient data to predict outcomes? A highlight of the Medtech stage was a presentation by Sriram Vishwanath, PhD, of Accordian Health on how a data-driven approach to understanding individuals and populations can help uncover hidden risks and allow physicians to take action before events happen. This could have a huge impact on the payer, physician, and patient dynamic.

This possibility led into a discussion about healthier patient lifestyles. Because our lives increasingly center on technology, tech advancements have implications for behavioral health. The information-gathering capacities of wearable technology can make people think they are living a healthier lifestyle than they really are, which can create risk factors.

This was the theme of the talk given by Mike Payne, MBA, MSci, from Omada Health. Using tech to target those in need when they need it, and using both a combination of digital resources and health coaches to improve care and reduce cost, Omada Health boasts an 80%+ success rate for those who enroll in their Prevent program.

Other great innovations are on the way from GSK and Proteus Digital Health. GSK’s Moncef Slaoui is working on a device that targets nerves on specific organs to treat chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, or asthma. Working with Walter Voit’s team from the University of Texas, tiny implants mapped to a flexible polymer could be implanted directly onto nerves using a simple procedure in a doctor’s office.

The resulting device will monitor the organ wirelessly and tell it to change its behavior. The device can also transmit to the doctor a potential problem before it happens.

Proteus, meanwhile, is pioneering digital pill technology. Their pill transmits data to a platform that is integrated with other healthcare companies, providing real-time data on the patient’s current health and medication adherence. Proper medication adherence is a massive problem: most patients believe they are adhering to treatment and most do not understand the risks involved with poor adherence. A digital pill combined with future technologies, like the patch from Chronos Therapeutics, can go a long way to alleviating this situation.

Combining design and technology is the approach that will lead to the development of products that seamlessly integrate into the lives of patients and caregivers.

It was another exciting year for technology innovation. In fact, it’s the first year I felt I could see the “market use” light at the end of the tunnel. By staying true to the fundamental principles of design and user engagement, we can position ourselves at the threshold of an exciting new era in healthcare marketing.