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2018 Season Launch

Human-Centered Design For Health And Wellness: Interview With Amy Cueva


Amy Cueva is a smooth talker. But not at all in a negative sense. I interviewed Amy last week. She’s bold and confident, graceful and poised. And she knows a thing or two about healthcare, design, and running her own company.

Amy is co-founder and chief experience officer of Mad*Pow, a health and wellness company that employs human-centered design, a design method that is pretty perfect for the health and wellness space.

Some Mad*Pow background

Amy studied graphic design at art school and worked as a web designer specializing in information architecture and usability research. To her it was a perfect blend of creativity and analytics. Amy teamed up with her now business partner when she started freelancing after the dot com bubble burst. They worked contracts, keeping human-centered design as their mojo. “The method was comforting, guiding, and serving purposes,” says Amy.

Originally Amy and her partner worked mainly in finance, simplifying the complex for consumers. But after the financial crisis in 2008, they began to focus more on health.

Now, Mad*Pow employs 60-70 people across two offices. It has established the HXRefactored conference and the Center for Health Experience Design, a membership-based collaborative for organizations or companies interested in improving the ways they employ and use design.

Design thinking as a successful pathway for health and wellness

“In healthcare,” says Amy. “There are all sorts of organizations serving the same populations and there are multiple systems of pathways that support their business organization.” Design thinking helps illuminate points of collaboration. It breaks what has become siloed and illuminates inter-professional partnership opportunities across the varied stakeholders.

In a lot of ways Mad*Pow works as a facilitator, designing with the people for which its enhancing services.

“Healthcare is very solution oriented, and it’s not the only answer. We use open, free and playful methods to create experiences through design that help people be healthier.” -Amy Cueva

At the heart of Mad*Pow designs is an effort to fundamentally shift the paradigm around how we create a culture of health. Their work challenges our assumed knowledge about either our own health or about the state of healthcare in general. “Human-centered design is inherently empathetic, requiring a tapping into our hearts and minds and the iterative nature encourages agility, iteration, and validation,” adds Amy

Design that is infused with purpose necessarily holds our empathy. It can make us feel for the stranger sitting next to us in the hospital waiting room, and it enables our personal experiences to be honored and addressed, as well. “Empathy fuels our desire to do things better,” says Amy.