Working with Aetna to Design Better Health Technology

By Denny Royal

June 3, 2014

Aetna invited Azul Seven and seven other firms to a three-day competition to design a healthcare app for caregivers. Here’s what happened.

In an effort to advance the state of health technology design, Aetna has made a significant effort to engage the design community in a new way. In collaboration with digital health incubator Rock Health, Aetna hosted a live 3-day challenge event to engage and challenge the best design firms to improve the lives of seniors and their caregivers. Azul Seven is proud to have been invited to participate, and even more proud to have had our work selected as the winner.

The event, RFP Live Design, is part of Aetna’s larger initiative to create a space where designers and healthcare can work effectively to improve the customer experience. Aetna is committed to creating consumer and patient-driven products and services, and recognizes that to get there it needs good design. Working with consultant Dr. Steph Habif, CTO Brian Garcia and Dr. Kyra Bobinet are the Aetna trailblazers leading the charge.

The challenge: Develop an iPad application for family members who provide care to seniors in only 28 hours. An estimated 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of unpaid care for adult family members and friends each year. The relationship seniors have with family caregivers is the number one determinant of their health and happiness. And these caregivers carry enormous burdens. Aetna is working to ease these burdens and improve the caregiver and senior ecosystem. What could a tablet application do to achieve these goals?

The brief was not released until the morning before the event. Each of the eight participating world-class consultancies were invited based on their past innovation and excellence in behavior design and user experience in health care. Each was given the same information and had the same amount of time to create and present their findings, ideas and creative solutions.

The judging panel included experts in behavior design and health UX as well as expert health clinicians, technologists and – in a unique twist – end users, who also served as a resource for design teams throughout the challenge.

Azul Seven’s expertise in human-centered design for healthcare was critical to our success in this competition. By keeping the people who will use the product at the center of a robust research and design process, our team is consistently able to gain meaningful insight and effectively apply it to the generation, presentation and realization of new ideas.

As a result, Aetna and Azul Seven are now collaborating on other important initiatives to broadly improve the quality and usability of healthcare technology, empowering caregivers and patients and driving improved outcomes.

Want to learn more about design for innovation or biomimicry?

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