Anyone who has had a chronic medical issue–or a family member with one–knows how difficult it can be to understand what their doctors are talking about. Enter Emmi Solutions, a health data visualization company that uses multidisciplinary art to explain complex concepts to patients of all ages. “Health care is very personal and can be really scary. People want to be involved, supported, reassured, and guided to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. Caregivers want that for their patients too, but haven’t always had the tools or the incentives to provide that,” says Greg Blew, the company’s chief creative officer. “So we started making interactive multimedia programs that educated patients about upcoming surgical procedures and set their expectations around factors like recovery time, postoperative pain, and potential risks.”
A trained scientific and medical artist, Blew joined the company as an illustrator and animator when it was founded in 2002 and moved up the ranks to art director, then creative team lead, all the way to his current position as CCO where he oversees product management. He was drawn to the company by “the idea that I could do something worthwhile with my talent, the prospect that I could help build a company from the ground up,” he says. “But I also liked the fact that the founders were all very creative. They had very high standards when it came to product design, user experience, and visuals, and those standards are encoded into the company’s DNA. That’s made a big difference in our approach, decision-making, and culture.”
Twelve years later, the Chicago-based company’s creations have been viewed by millions of people who are living testaments to the fact that their visual approach to bridging the gap works. “Our programs use a conversational tone to make it seem like a really good friend is talking to you. Combining that with simple visuals can remove barriers and reduce anxiety, which puts people in a much better place to absorb the information,” Blew, 40, says. “We’ve also built a really powerful technology platform that can prescribe, track, and document different kinds of outreach–multimedia, videos, phone calls, text messages, emails, etc.–and coordinate it all.” That tech can be easily integrated into existing clinical systems and consolidated into a single HIPAA compliant platform, which makes it scalable for institutions nationwide.
And then there is the hard data. A study from researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that patients who used Emmi’s web-based education tool before a colonoscopy not only reported significantly less anxiety about the procedure, but also required less sedation and shorter procedure times. And on the business front, the company’s revenue grows 20% to 30% annually and they’ve historically retained 95% of their clients.
Next up, Emmi is working to develop longer relationships with patients. “That means focusing on the return engagement. How do you make more meaningful connections and change behaviors on an ongoing basis?” Blew asks. “We’ve reimagined the way our programs interact with patients, and are building out a next-generation platform to help our clients provide a consumer experience that rivals anything you’ll find outside of health care.”