Designing the birthing experience for low resource settings. A human centered design approach

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Collaborative and Industrial Design
119 + 20
Although significant progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality in last two decades, complications during pregnancy and childbirth still claims lives of thousands of mothers and newborns each year. Overcrowding, uncleanliness and lack of means to support emergency or accidental deliveries suggest that for many women, the experience of birth is neither safe nor comfortable. With number of births continuously rising around the world, the health facilities must be adequately prepared to deal with both normal pregnancies and complications that requires prompt, life-saving interventions. Hence innovative and life-saving product such as the one I have designed, the Portable Delivery Stool could help to deliver high quality care to women and newborns everywhere. This thesis consists of three phases. The first phase has been done as a part of Lab.our Ward (LW) project, which was a cross-disciplinary innovation project to design novel maternity ward services, products and spaces that are based on women’s and care providers’ needs in the context of low-resource settings. In this project i worked as a product designer and my main tasks were related to doing the research for design and exploring innovative products ideas. The second and third phase consisted of improving one of the promising design solutions (Delivery Stool) and conducting field evaluation and user testing in India. The thesis main research question addresses how Human Centered Design methods can be used to develop innovative healthcare product concepts meant for low resource settings? The overall aim of this thesis was to understand, identify and explore the possibilities of improving the existing MNCH situations by proposing simple, durable and cost effective product solutions. At the same time emphasizing the importance of Human Centered Design and Participatory Design approach as vital methodologies to develop these solutions. To fulfill the above mentioned goals, several sources were explored such as review of existing research project reports followed by field visits to maternity facilities in Helsinki as well as in India. Based on the research insights a series of co-design sessions were conducted with healthcare experts such as midwife, clinical advisor and designers. Later on some of the ideas were showcased as prototypes for expert comments in a co-creation event. As per the feedback received I have improved one of the promising idea (Delivery Stool) and conducted user testing in India. Based on the project and field study experience, this thesis draw conclusions on four main aspects of design process. Firstly, emphasizing the importance of working in the same team with health practitioners for a considerable longer period of time. Secondly, testing and refining ideas all the time through quick prototyping and even role-play. Thirdly, to have frequent interactions with health experts, instead of the “standard” method in which the interaction happens in a couple of key moments during the design phase and lastly, to do the evaluation of the concepts in the right context for designing meaningful solutions.
Miettinen, Eero
Thesis advisor
Salgado, Mariana
healthcare, product design, low and medium income countries, human centered design, co-design, participatory design, maternal and newborn child health, birthing stool
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