By Justin Torrento, Director of Experience Design, McCann Health New York
CES 2024 was an impressive combination of new products and information sessions that educated attendees like no other conference can. In addition to scouring the convention floor booths for new tech that IPG Health can integrate into our offerings, I focused on attending breakout sessions that would improve my understanding of technology's place in healthcare, modern creative practices like inclusive design, and the roles new tech like AI, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) plays in modern agency services.
Hospital at home
Tens of new products were revealed that improve the ability of patients and caregivers to monitor, test and treat people at home. From affordable scales that check BMI and obesity data to furniture that treats symptoms, the "hospital at home" initiative officially took off this year and became one of the biggest themes of the conference.
In every case these new products provide not just testing, diagnosis, or addressing symptoms, but also provide valuable data for physicians and partners to learn from. The digital tools we create for our clients can benefit from the adoption of these new products in homes, and provide data and actionable direction that traditional wearables cannot.
Inclusive design and accessibility in agency creative
At IPG Health, we are diligent about ensuring that all digital products we create meet a level of accessibility compliance so that our products can be engaged by all people and not exclusively the able-bodied. But we're learning more each year about the huge differences in how these users access information, and my conversations with several industry leaders proved we have just begun to optimize our work for the patients and physicians we design and write for.
In each of the three post-panel conversations I had with accessibility industry leaders, I learned that adhering exclusively to accessibility standards like the WCAG AA level may ease legal concerns, but does not necessarily optimize the site for particular patient types. In fact, in some instances we may be developing a site that is marked "accessible" but is not one those patients can use. These industry leaders pointed to new recommendations in updating our internal process, as well as partnering with specialized agencies as needed to tailor our digital products for the specific patients and caregivers we are looking to reach.
AI and AR/VR in healthcare advertising
The rapid adoption of AI-driven tools has been the single biggest story in advertising and technology this past year and CES 2024 showcased hundreds of AI products — including wearable AI for pets! — and panel sessions devoted to improving attendees’ understanding of this quickly-changing landscape.
Likely the biggest single impact on our work is the ability for data to be read and used in ways that have never been possible previously. From micro-interactions like patient visits, allowing physicians to quickly grab patient details and spend their time working, to macro-level work like historical data sets too large for humans to access and learn from, AI will allow us to tap into information previously unavailable. Additionally, AI offers a benefit in customized digital experiences — a doctor discussion guide that can generate recommendations and not just a PDF, a diagnosis tool that offers actionability we haven't seen before and more. Our digital offerings can and should adapt based on these features we've only just acquired.
CES is an important checkpoint for any communications agency to send employees to. For technologists and business folks alike, CES creates a place of learning alongside the brightest minds in technology and healthcare. Most panel members were available after sessions for further discussion, and their additional insights were extremely valuable. This year the breakout sessions on AI, accessibility and hospital from home dovetailed perfectly with the wild products on the show floor, and it's here where the most valuable intersection of new tech and deep learning exists.