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Proseminar Reflection – March 12

By:  Rosa Rios Avendano

Last Saturday we had an excellent speaker, Mr. Danny Bernstein, who is the CEO and Founder of MetaME Health. Mr. Bernstein was trained in executive information technology management at Columbia University and has a master in architecture from Tulane University. His company MetaME is a member of the healthcare incubator MATTER, which is located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

MetaME is a digital health company, which has developed software to help its users monitor, maintain, and improve their health. This software is designed for people living with chronic conditions. An example of a chronic condition addressed by MetaME is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disease of the colon (large intestine) that causes frequent abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and abdominal cramping. The disease does not have a precise etiology. However, it has a strong association with bacteria overgrowth in the colon, allergies to certain foods, and emotional stress.

Mr. Bernstein explained that 10% of the US population suffers from IBS, and it is more predominant in females of reproductive age. The symptoms of IBS can be mild, moderate, or severe. Severe disease presentation usually disrupts an individual’s productivity, attendance, social interactions, and other activities of daily living. IBS can also be associated with nutrition deficiencies due to chronic diarrhea. Currently, there is no specific treatment for IBS, but a combination of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, diet modification, and some medications. A significant number of patients suffering from IBS do not find relief with conventional medical interventions.

MetaMe offers information about the symptoms of this disease, the severity and offers treatment options. For example, the software implements a food challenge journal to identify triggering foods of the disease. It also recommends healthy life routines based on scientific evidence. MetaMe intends to provide an impressive user experience while navigating the software and ultimately educating chronically ill individuals about self-maintenance of their disease. 

After this Proseminar, we reinforced the importance of health technology design to improve healthcare. The health care system is focusing efforts on health technology and health communication to achieve better results in the management of chronic diseases. A health communication professional is capable of implementing a user-centered design to create solutions for patients with chronic illnesses and their families. The opportunities in the health communication arena are vast because communication is the core of collaboration, cooperation, and coordination of healthcare services.

The Master of Science in Health Communication program at Northwestern University will teach you the art of communication implemented in the design of health technology. Our program will guide you on how to analyze and identify suitable health technology, develop user-centered interfaces, and implement strategies to ease technology usability and utility. We offer ten weeks of Human-Computer Interaction course to discuss health IT problems and solutions to communication issues in this field. Our outstanding faculty will guide you to master human-computer workflow and patient-centered design.