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More than a buzzword: How do we put people at the centre of digital health innovation?

A major transformation has taken place in the way a family doctor’s office operates. In the recently released Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) Workforce Study, 85% of Canadian primary care physicians reported using electronic medical records, compared to 23% in 20061. Adopting these tools has been a major step forward for digital health, and yet, many pain points still exist:

  • Information remains inaccessible
  • Many tasks remain manual and tedious, and
  • Patients still lack tools that enable them to play a larger and more meaningful role in their care

What would it take to create digital tools for the family doctor’s office that eliminate, rather than add to, these pain points?

Co-design actively engages people in each stage of the design and development of the new technology. At Mikata Health, we believe this people-centered approach is a game-changer for digital health for a number of reasons:

  • Focus on the right problems: Observing and talking to users builds a rich understanding of their real needs, while also identifying behaviours and workflows to be accommodated.
  •  Develop the best solutions: Exploring a broad range of possible solutions and using quick, inexpensive concept testing pinpoints the right solution, rather than presupposing what it will be.
  • Get ahead of change management: Involving users from the beginning fosters buy-in and makes adoption much more likely.

To date, we’ve established co-design partnerships with a number of clinics in Alberta. We’re developing an easy-to-use concierge tool that uses the power of artificial intelligence to give patients quick, convenient access to their care and information, while automating tedious tasks so doctors and staff can get back to focusing on care. We’re also partnering with a local citizen’s group to build a platform connecting digital health companies like ours with patients, doctors, and healthcare organizations who want to participate in co-design.

Canada Health Infoway’s mission to bring digital health innovation to Canadians is something we’re proud to be a part of as one of several Albertan startups sponsoring the 2017 Infoway Partnership Conference, Connecting for Digital Health, on November 14 and 15.  We are participating in the session Embracing Disruption: The power of start-ups in digital health, November 15 at 11:20 – 11:50 AM.  


Meaghan Nolan is the COO and co-founder of Mikata Health, a digital health startup helping clinics transform the primary care experience. Before that, she was a lead designer at Moment in New York City where she guided multi-disciplinary teams in the creation of digital products and services for Fortune 500 companies in media, financial services and healthcare. She is passionate about putting people at the center of digital health and the potential of co-design to accelerate innovation.  If you are interested in learning more about co-design for digital health, we’d love to chat. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or say hello at the  conference.

1. Canadian Medical Association’s Workforce Survey, retrieved October 2017:

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