At Health Technology Forum www.healthtechnologyforum.com, innovation conference on April, 19th 2013, a panel addressed the challenges and opportunities in building design thinking in planning technology solutions for the underserved. The panel shared examples and case studies from their work, around the world. Healthcare delivery, in low resource settings, can be particularly challenging. The panelists demonstrated how innovative design solutions addressed key pain points, and enhanced quality of care in these situations. Seema Handu, Managing Director at Children’s Global Health Initiative, moderated the panel and shared about the work done by CGHI in various parts of the world, with its mission to enable sustainable global health. Handu shared examples of work like the Solar Suitcase
http://bit.ly/HqmOgf which is affordable, cost effective, light weight, efficient, safe, portable suitcase that can be easily assembled, and has been used with increasing demand, to bring light into the hospitals, and to power small medical instruments, in rural Africa.
Dr. Andre Muelenaer, CMO at Pediatric Medical Device Institute, said, design thinking for the underserved, requires considerations of the needs of the community and the needs of the patient. He and his team often visit the developing regions of the world, and perform needs assessment, to ensure that unnecessary equipment is not dumped there, without consideration of the requirements and resources. Glen Moy is Senior Program Officer with California HealthCare Foundation. Each year, the foundation gives away $40 million, in grants. In reviewing the grant proposals, the foundation considers if the solution is targeted for the right problem, and if it is patient centered. Foundation gives many small grants, to nurture early stage ideas, said Moy.
Dennis Boyle, Partner and Founding Member with IDEO, shared about the design thinking approach at IDEO that is human centered, and balances understanding of the community, business, and technology factors. Above all, it is based on understanding people’s needs. Boyle shared IDEO success stories including solving urban sanitation problem in Ghana and giving home trained, otherwise poorly qualified doctors in Bihar, India, information and access to some basic tools and access to doctors in major hospitals, in big cities. Boyle also talked about understanding culture and beliefs and behavior patterns of the community. For instance, while clean cook stoves were a necessity in Tanzania, and though many families acquired them, they rarely used them, opting for chopping down the wood instead. They were gradually educated how clean cook stoves were safer, easy to care, and healthier, in order to help the people move from acquisition of cook stoves to actual use.