Published on May 18, 2011

This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.

The New Media Medicine group at the MIT Media Lab suggests a key to solving healthcare problems lies in establishing new kinds of collaboration between patients and practitioners. Traditionally, the relationship has been one of “inequality” where practitioners and medical experts monopolize access to information. This leaves the power of the people and the ability to collaborate untapped. The New Media Medicine group is creating projects that offer innovative user experiences that can drive change. Let’s take a look at two.

Avatars To Assist Patient-Physician Collaboration
One of the most frustrating things, when care is needed can be the delays in getting an appointment or someone to talk to. The I’m Listening system uses an avatar to conduct a pre-office visit interview. The avatar-based interview is meant to enhance, not substitute for, the doctor’s own interview of the patient. The avatar can be used to provide, with a sense of immediacy, educational materials, care suggestions and information to better assist the patient in working with the doctor. The information from the interview can help save the doctor time in terms of getting a basic understanding of the patient’s condition.  watch the video

An Open Source Stethoscope
Imagine an inexpensive and easy to use stethoscope that you could use yourself to take readings that could be streamed over the internet to a physician. This is the result of the IDA project, an open source effort to create an inexpensive stethoscope that is not only easy to use but also easy to manufacture all over the world. MIT’s New Media Medicine group points out such instruments could have an impact in developing countries where the physician to patient ratio is 1 to 200,000.  watch the video

These two projects and others at the New Media Medicine group at the MIT Media Lab show how rethinking the role of users and the possibilities of user experience can enable innovative and game-changing technologies and solutions in healthcare.

For more, visit the New Media Medicine group at the MIT Media Lab.