On November 23rd, a number of creative and healthcare professionals met in Berlin for the MEDlove. This conference, which took place this year for the very first time, placed its emphasis on usability and service design in health care, thereby offering an interesting perspective. Tastefully housed in the Friedrichstrasse Auditorium, the MEDlove offered a coherent mix of presentations and networking. The program was opened by Steve Dean from New York, an entrepreneur and lecturer at the NY University. True to the theme of “sense and sense-making”, he spoke about the importance of patient data and how service design can improve health care. Dean, who is the leader of the New York Quantified Self group, also depicted the potential of new consumer solutions such as pedometers and other networked sensors for a healthier lifestyle – a topic which was mentioned often throughout the conference.
My personal highlight of the conference was Mark A. M. Kramer’s presentation “Developing Participatory Design Strategies for ePatients”. Kramer talked about processes in hospitals and conveyed the technology situation in German and American clinics. Pictures of seemingly outdated technology and communication devices that are far-flung from the solutions used on a daily basis in private life made apparent the sort of potential for innovation that can still be tapped into there. When Kramer mentioned that these observations had been made during his own cancer treatment, the atmosphere in the room clouded and reminded me and many others present of why we were at the MEDlove – The impending revolution in the healthcare system is about competition between contesting interests where significant improvements can only be achieved by innovators with strong personal convictions.
This awareness gave the talks at the MEDlove something very pleasant and grounded, so that I enjoyed networking late into the night as I seldom had at previous conferences. With its content orientation, its excellent provisions and its relaxed timing of the conference program, the MEDlove was a real highlight for me, and I am already looking forward to visiting it again next year. I congratulate the organizer for this innovative and coherent concept, and I wish him all the best for the future MEDloves.