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Archive for March, 2013

An afternoon of happiness, wellbeing, calm, health navigation, and patient innovation

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

On Monday, March 25, 2013, I attended the Healthcare Experience Design Conference (hxd) in Boston, MA. The conference was attended by designers, technologists, product managers, researchers, entrepreneurs and patients who are passionate about improving the health care experience. This post is part two of a summary of the sessions I attended.

The Happiness Project

Gretchen Rubin, author of Happiness at Home and the Happiness Project, offered her advice for happiness. Her resolutions are to get enough sleep, get exercise, jump, and enjoy your sense of smell. She said possessions are a source of joy and frustration. She asks herself: Do we use it? Do we love it? Do we need it? Her key to happiness are strong, long term relationships. She declared “Happy families have fun traditions.” You can discover more about Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, and her experiments in the practice of everyday life at:

Considering the Whole Individual

Alexandra Drane of the Eliza Corporation discussed the challenges of life and how hard it can be to make important healthy behavior changes. Certain concerns that are the root of health conditions, but rarely get discussed at the doctor’s office. These “unmentionables” include sex, drugs, and a crappy boss. She said the top health problems in the US are in fact stress, sleep, care giving, money concerns, lack of support, relationship problems. People who report 4 or 5 unmentionables have the most health issues. Buffers, such as a strong network of peers, spirituality, and exercise, help. Patients who felt more vulnerable were less healthy, and felt less powerful. Her message encouraged attendees to apply this information as an industry and to build programs that increase buffers like social supports, spirituality, and exercise. Learn more about the unmentionables at:

Calming Technology

Neema Moraveji, from Stanford University, informed us that calm isn’t just about being relaxed. Calm is a restful alertness. He teaches a Designing Calm class at the Stanford Institute of Design. He led a guided meditation for the audience. He talked about Grok design, which means to understand or comprehend something. More on this at: He recommended identifying stressors, mitigating stressors, and designing with avoiding stress. He showed a variety of student projects, including a meditation, relationship, and mindful eating apps. He showed us Breathwear, a new technology to stream breathing data to your phone.

Health Navigation

Dan Brousseau of Emperia, asked, “are we ready to innovate the healthcare experience?” He said innovative organizations embrace risk and failure, show a natural bias towards customer needs and expectations, demonstrate extraordinary levels of collaboration across function and discipline, and experiment. Service experience values make people feel comforted, involved, safe, trusted, and important. Using a customer transformation model, Emperia sought to improve the experience for customers and employees, raise efficiency of experience delivery and align service design with hospital strategy. They shadowed service employees, and discovered that it is the health navigators who determine the experience. Cultivating the health navigator experience created one central contact to help coordinate the clinical experience.

Patient Innovators and Instigators

A panel of three patients shared their health journeys and the tools they created to advocate for their health. Ken Spriggs, a patient with Crohns Disease was inspired by ePatient Dave’s Ted Talk (Give Me My Damn Data, It inspired him to get all of his medical records and scan and make them searchable. Then, he compiled key data and charted it. The next patient, Lana asked what is needed – empathy, education, community and creativity. She cleverly mashed up social media sites to track her moods and maintain her health. She combined Social Me with Facebook to see what affected her moods, explored Four Square to see what places she loved the most, and used Instagram to card sort experiences. She left us with a powerful message – everyone can repurpose. Katie McCurdy shared her story of living with Myasthenia Gravis. She created a paper timeline of symptoms, medications and memories. She insightfully said, “memories are data, too”. Her closing remark encouraged us to assemble and visualize our patient stories.

Designing Work for Health and Profit

Martin Adler of Healthrageous, asked us, “Do we have a disease management problem or do we have a time management problem?” Since work is where most people spend the majority of our time, why not start at the workplace with healthy design solutions. He said the greatest health return is to reduce sitting time. He showed the workplace of the future, with treadmill and cycling desks. His vision for a healthy workplace includes increased access to windows and plants, access to free and convenient snacks, and a casual dress atmosphere to encourage more physical activity throughout the day. There was literally a picture of an elephant in his picture of the workplace of the future, which represented the possibility of sensors and tracking the health and physical activity of employees at the workplace. In my opinion, it would be great if more workplaces encouraged flexible work plans, gave daily wellness breaks, and provided healthy atmospheres with windows and plants. I’m not a fan of the tracking.

Patients Like Me

Jamie Heywood, chairman of PatientsLikeMe, delivered the final Keynote of the day. PatientsLikeMe helps patient share information on their health conditions to compare treatments, symptoms, and outcomes. It is a wealth of personalized research. He discussed different ways to measure medicine and interacting domains. He talked about the evolution of the site how measuring patients at the point of care for characteristics of intervention, environment, severity, and impact should be used to inform and help the next patient.


I left this conference feeling inspired. I left with dreams for the innovation of the healthcare experience. I left with a deeper understanding of the complex issues at the intersection of design and the healthcare experience. Design is not just for designers. Design is for everyone. Design helps us understand what motivates people, how to call people to action, and how to create an outstanding experience. I highly recommend this conference for anyone interested in a cross-disciplinary exploration into improving the healthcare experience. Thanks hxd 2013 for an amazing experience!

By Michelle Eberle, Consumer Health Information Coordinator

How Design Can Improve the Healthcare Experience

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

On Monday, March 25, 2013, I attended the Healthcare Experience Design Conference (hxd) in Boston, MA. The conference was attended by designers, technologists, product managers, researchers, entrepreneurs and patients who are passionate about improving the health care experience. The conference’s tagline was “where healthcare and design intersect.” It was an amazing day full of insights on how to improve the health care experience. It made me reflect in new ways about the intersection of design and provision of health information. It made me think about how to take better care of my own health and the health of my family. I would like to share what I learned at the conference.

Reality is Broken, SuperBetter

In the Opening Keynote, Jane McGonigal, creator of SuperBetter, and the author of the book, “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,” shared how games can help solve the world’s most urgent problems, including hunger, poverty, climate change, and obesity. She wants us all to learn how can we take feelings from games and apply them to real life. She hopes we can take the superpowers we learn in games and integrate them in our lives and world. Superpowers from games – secret identify, power up, allies, bad guys, quests – teach us important life skills like how to take power of a situation, deal with trauma, bring support to our experience, become psychologically flexible, commit to action, and feel good every day. She said lessons learned in games strengthen positive emotions, make us happier, more confident, and more determined. View her inspiring TEDTalk, “Gaming can make a better world.”

Reader-Centered Design for Health Communication

Sandy Hilfiker and Molly McLeod of CommunicateHealth shared six strategies to create easy to use health websites and applications from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Health Literacy Online Guide. Tips include: 1) Learn about your users and their goals; 2) Write actionable content; 3) Display content clearly on the page; 4) Organize content and simplify navigation; 5) Engage users with interactive content; and 6) Evaluate and revise your site. CommunicateHealth recommended involving users with limited literacy in formative research by partnering with community organizations to recruit special populations.

How to Design User Habits

Nir Eyal of Stanford University discussed how to use a hook to take people from states of low engagement to high engagement. He discussed the four parts of the hook – a trigger, action, reward and investment. He said, “habits aren’t created, they are built upon.” Some triggers are external, like alarms, calls to action, emails, stores, and authority. Internal triggers are in users heads. He discussed the Fogg Behavior Model and the six motivators of behavior. Nir referred to Skinner and how creating intermittent rewards increases response rate. Creating an endless search leads to rewards: for the tribe (social), for the self (mastery, consistency, completion and competency), and for hunt (food, money and information). Technology products that store value get better the more you use them. Eyal charged the audience to create preference and cultivate meaning.

Inclusion by Design

Dr. Ivor Horn of the Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University School of Medicine shared that what matters is how we communicate with patients, families and parents. She said “trust and listening matter in the health and design process.” She taught two don’ts and one do. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t just take, give. Do collaborate. She told a moving story about how frustrations with helping her father navigate the healthcare environment inspired her to become a doctor to facilitate change. In her experience, parents who had a greater self-efficacy are the parents who talk a lot and ask questions. She said to always think, how can what I am designing help those that need help the most.

Health Behavior Change and Beyond: The Health Benefits of Success Experiences

David Sobel, MD, MPH, co-author of the book, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions: Self-Management of Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Asthma, Bronchitis, Emphysema and Others” asked us to think of a change we had made. What helped us make that change? Why did we make that change? He talked about roads to behavioral change including pleasurable change, breakthrough change, environmental change and incremental planned change. The key indicator to making a healthy behavior change is a sense of confidence, self control, and self efficacy. One approach to behavior change is to encourage patients to make small steps, which leads to a gradual increases in confidence, mood, and efficacy. He asked important questions: Do we really know what motivates people? Where should we focus? Which curve can we shift? How can we strengthen self-efficacy? His message urged participants to move beyond boring health education programs. He talked about Eliza’s research on the “unmentionables”—that what makes it hard to manage health conditions, and often results in them, are life issues like stress, sex, sleep and a crappy boss – the very things that don’t get discussed at the doctor’s office. There are many ways to increase self-efficacy including persuasion, modeling, cognitive reframing, and mastery experiences. However, many prescribe failure by their general, long term, unpleasant, and difficult delivery and nature. His recipe for prescribing success is to choose behaviors that are specific, personal, easy, rapid, and pleasurable. He urged the participants to celebrate successes. His three powerful final thoughts encourage us to: 1) Help people find their passions. Screen for pleasure. Discover what drives and motivates people. 2) Help people discover their own solutions. Ask – what do you think will work for you? 3) Celebrate successes! His final message — everything that feels good is not bad for you.

By Michelle Eberle, Consumer Health Information Coordinator

Small Trip Report – Disaster Communications Summit 2013

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

By Anne Conner, Gale Medical Library, Littleton Regional Healthcare, Littleton, NH

I’d like to share a few words about my recent trip to Chicago March 7-8, 2013, which the NN/LM-NER funded, to attend a Disaster Communication Summit sponsored by the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region (GMR) and Midcontinental Region (MCR) offices. For starters, I made it out of Logan Airport just before Winter Storm Saturn (a.k.a. “Snowquester”) blasted in to the Northeast, and right after it left the Midwest, dumping record amounts of snow in Chicago. As Ruth Holst (Associate Director of the NN/LM GMR) welcomed all of us at the beginning of the first of three courses, she noted that her hero of the day was the woman from the Northeast (that would be me).

The first session featured a panel discussion with speakers from the emergency planning community, and focused on the roles libraries can play before, during, and after a disaster. The workshop on service continuity planning given by Dan Wilson, Coordinator, NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, was particularly helpful. Dan presented a step-by-step approach to how a library can continue to provide its core resources and services to patrons in the event of a disaster or any kind of service disruption. He will continue to work with the attendees over the course of 9 weeks to complete their own library’s service continuity plan. I commend the GMR and MCR (hosts of the Summit) for having their own service continuity plans in place, as they had the capacity to bring in two of the faculty using the National Library of Medicine’s Adobe Connect®. Cindy Love, from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), effectively taught “US Response to Disasters and Public Health Emergencies”. She never realized when she had agreed to teach this course that, not only would the winter storm prevent her from traveling to Chicago, but also the sequestration and resulting government travel restrictions would also interfere. Due to the winter storm, Dan Wilson from the U. of Virginia was not able to travel, either, and he also used Adobe Connect.

Kacy Allgood, MLS, gave a presentation titled Roles for Librarians in Disaster Communications: Experiences of an Ambulance-Riding Librarian. As a Sewell Fellow, her position is currently embedded in several Emergency Medical Services agencies in the Indianapolis, Indiana region. I came away from this experience having met some great librarians from the Midwest and Midcontinental Regions, having learned quite a bit, and having a heightened appreciation for the value of our RMLs. Many thanks to the NER office!

What Health Information Do Consumers Seek Online

Friday, March 8th, 2013

The article, What Health Information Do Consumers Seek Online, reminds us that women, seniors and caregivers are the top seekers of online health information. Baby Center identifies that women make most of the decisions for their family’s health care and often go online to look up information in advance of medical appointments. Enspektos, a marketing company, reported that 1/3 of mom’s look up health information daily or every few days, and of mom with apps, 1/2 downloaded a health app.

The NN/LM’s Health Literacy Manual is quoted in the article:

For seniors, the health information they seek is more specialized. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine said, for example, that “older adults use more medical services and acquire more chronic illnesses than other population segments.” Yet the American Academy of Family Physicians found that half of the US seniors it surveyed in March 2012 felt there wasn’t a single online resource where they could find highly credible health information, including information about prescription drugs for the elderly (14%) and preventative medical care for seniors (13%).

More seniors need to learn about National Library of Medicine sites, especially MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth. The National Library of Medicine is a source of highly credible health information that seniors can trust. The information on MedlinePlus must meet Quality Guidelines. The quote from the AAFP may be also related to seniors comfort level with the internet in general. It is also important to note that there are differences within the senior generation, as “boomers” are often more internet savvy than their parents in the “matures” generation.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine plays a key role in teaching consumers how to find and use National Library of Medicine resources. Librarians are essential to help seniors increase their comfort level with internet searching, learn how to critically evaluate online resources, and become familiar with sources of highly credible health information like MedlinePlus. The NIHSeniorHealth includes a Trainer Toolkit. The Toolkit for Trainers provides free, easy-to-use training materials to help older adults find reliable, up-to-date online health information on their own. The NN/LM offers classes to help librarians connect older adults with health information. These include: Healthy Aging at your Libary: Connecting Older Adults to Health Information, and Senior Moments: Health Information and Older Adults.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project is an excellent source exploring the health information seeking behaviors of Americans. Take a look at their latest report, Health Online 2013.

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