FINDING EMPATHY: Navigating past the dark side of health technology design

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Why are medical devices left unused in the corner of the room? Why do we continue to resort to using paper when we have IT systems that are supposed to eliminate the need? Why are regulators now more closely scrutinizing health technologies for causing use-errors that lead to injury and death?

The divide between the needs of user and the design of health technologies has often been wide. We continue to grapple with immensely sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that never fully realize their potential because of seemingly innocuous user-related issues that lead to frustration and errors that can harm.

Dr. Cafazzo will lead us through the dark side of technology design, to a place where empathy for the patient and provider has been lost. Not to dwell, he will then speak to the future, where the simplest and most advanced technologies will find their way to a better experience by the user, leading to more effective patient outcomes.

Lastly, he will show how empathy in design will change how we view the role of the patient in their own care, leading to better outcomes, independent of traditional providers.


Joseph-Cafazzo-150x150Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is Lead for the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, a state-of-the-art research facility devoted to the evaluation and design of healthcare technology, hosting seventy researchers and staff.

As a biomedical engineer, he has spent his entire career in a hospital setting. By observing healthcare delivery from the inside, he works on ways to keep people out of hospital by creating technologies that allow for self-care at home. At the same time, Joe and his team are the biggest critics of poorly designed health technologies and their ineffectiveness. He surrounds himself with whip-smart, and passionate engineers and designers who are creating technologies that are spirited, modern, people-focused, and truly improve the patient experience.

He is an associate professor at the University of Toronto, in the areas of clinical engineering, human factors, and health informatics and is the recipient of the Career Scientist award by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

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