Crafting stories and shaping the future of healthcare

By Mario Arias, Director, Experience Design, AREA 23

SXSW 2024 continued its tradition of fostering thought-provoking conversations on cutting-edge topics in healthcare and technology this year. The discussions ranged from patient-focused issues to high-tech medical treatment. The role of AI across various sectors, particularly in healthcare, is a major focal point, as it has the potential to revolutionize patient care, diagnostic procedures and treatment plans. However, it was clear that integrating AI effectively is as much a challenge of cooperation and communication as it is one of technical innovation. There are serious concerns around authenticity, transparency, racial diversity and data privacy across the tech and healthcare industries, especially as AI and other technologies become more deeply enmeshed in these fields.  

Trust and the power of storytelling 

With the flood of new AI tools available to everyone, trust is becoming harder and harder to come by for a lot of us. Without an emotional and human connection, often a creative idea can get lost in the sea of content hitting us daily. From Apple’s Lional Messi is the GOAT campaign, to the Dali Museum’s Ask Dali, the common thread amongst creatives at SXSW was the importance of connecting with your audience using emotional storytelling. 

The importance of craft and design systems  

Regardless of what tools are being used, the need to hone an idea and transform it from a rough concept into a polished final product is paramount. Consistency, transparency and scalability must all be baked into not only the idea but into the design system that is going to bring that idea to life. For an idea to live on a banner, a billboard, a website and potentially a 3D immersive experience, a solid well-thought-through design system is crucial for scalability.  

Gaming and spatial design 

The future of gaming and spatial design with its use of spatial computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud gaming is going to be a game changer in the near future. Offering more immersive, interactive and realistic experiences, the divide between our digital world and creator driven ecosystems like Fortnite and Roblox, is closing fast. Gaming will be a powerful medium to promote mental well-being, and to provide engaging and interactive ways to manage and improve mental health. 

Overall, SXSW 2024 indicated that the future of healthcare will be significantly shaped by advancements in technology, personalized medicine and a greater focus on patient-centric care. The biggest hurdle to overcome will be in patient trust; too many people have doubts about how their information is being used and the lack of a consolidated approach to vet the information being returned to them is concerning. With advances in AI-powered imaging systems, telemedicine, data security and enhanced patient engagement through apps, there is incredible opportunity for technical advancement, but the human need to feel comfortable and trust this evolution will be key. While our lives become more and more reliant on wearable tech and the data gleaned from it, the ability to connect with users who already feel overwhelmed in a rapidly-changing digital world will be key to successful consumer engagement.