Stephanie Vatz is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Carol McCall on Big Data & The Eye of the Beholder and Michael Graves on People First: Redesigning the Hospital Room. You can follow Stephanie on Twitter at @stephvatz.
In the realm of health and medicine, Social Media Week NYC has been bringing technology and humanity to the forefront in some surprising ways.
On Monday at the Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness Hub in SoHo, two keynote speakers, Carol McCall and Michael Graves, discussed improvements and potential solutions to patient care problems.
As the Chief Strategy Officer at GNS Healthcare, Carol McCall’s main job is looking at data. Her presentation however, was more focused on using technology to alter patient behavior both as a preventative health measure and a way for patients with similar experiences to commiserate or share stories.
McCall drew upon examples to illustrate the idea of taking an active role in one’s own health by changing attitude. Her primary interest was patient psychology and she offered techniques to either change people’s perspectives of their own life stories, positively modify self-perception, or find new ways to help people help themselves.
A key theme in Monday’s discussions was innovation. With social media it appears that experience in the field you work in might even be a detriment to thinking outside of the box and shedding new light on old problems.
The second keynote speaker of the morning, world-renowned architect and designer Michael Graves, knew very little about health care until he had to. Graves rolled to the stage in a wheelchair after a CBS Sunday Profiles clip of him finished playing on stage.
In 2003, a mysterious infection paralyzed Graves from the waist down, suddenly making him dependent on others, even inside his own hospital room.
Once he was on stage, Graves pressed a button on his wheelchair that made the front wheels roll under the back wheels until he was tall enough for everyone to see. It was the first example in a string of innovative design to come.
He started his discussion of reinventing in hospital room design by talking about his own frustrating experience of being unable to reach the sink faucet at the hospital, or being able to see himself in the mirror. Constantly, he was reminded that he couldn’t walk anymore.
“Oh, that’s not for me,” he said he once thought about the out of reach faucet, “that’s for people who can walk.”
Now, Graves is dedicating his career to designing new products, furniture and buildings with the disabled in mind. He displayed images of reinvented hospital bedside tables that would be easier for cleaning crews to disinfect, more functional shower stools, chairs that were easier to get out of and patient chairs to make the transition from operating room to hospital room more comfortable. He even made his employees sit in wheelchairs while designing some of the new products for him.
Although Graves couldn’t stand-up himself, his audience stood for him; he received a standing ovation before and after his presentation.