2012 - Mumbai, IN / Delft, NL


Designing an anaemia screening device for rural india

Designing a user friendly and cost efficient anaemia detection device using Biosense's technology. The aim was to bring new technology to rural areas in India. 

Cover image by Sharon Christina Rørvik via Unsplash
Cover image by Sharon Christina Rørvik via Unsplash
An ANM - Auxiliary Nurse Midwife - explaining how she diagnoses and treats anaemia in rural India

Bringing new medical technology to a low-income market with a complex healthcare system.

Anaemia has high incidence for women in rural areas in India, specially during pregnancy, and often results in death during labour. Biosense developed a low cost technology that can detect anaemia without pricking the patient’s skin. Providing an affordable non-invasive device is key for rural India where resources are scarce and poor sanitation is an obstacle for taking blood samples.

However, they were seeking to bring the product to the marked and wanted to re-design the device to meet India's healthcare providers and patient needs and expectations. The result was a new design for the ToucHb that fits the context and caregivers needs and can be manufactured at low-cost.

ToucHb prototype

Two months immersed in India to understand the health system and identify product requirements

To bring the ToucHb to market, Biosense was looking to re-design the device to better fit the user’s needs and align with a complex health care system, while maintaining low-cost manufacturing and creating a business opportunity. Therefore, they partnered with a team of designers to follow a user-centred approach in order to gather product and strategic requirements to develop the second version of the device.

Conducting research in rural & urban India

The project began with contextual research in order to understand the Indian health system and the different user groups. We spent several weeks in different rural areas around Mumbai conducting interviews with different health care providers such as 24h trained "nurses" (ASHAS) who are the main contact point with patients, medical specialists of private and public clinics and NGO doctors that serve missions in several areas across the country.

Aditionally, we facilitated a generative session with doctors in order to get their input regarding the ideal anaemia device for the indian market, and a vision workshop with Biosense to understand their business ambitions. On the other hand, we walked the streets of Mumbai to interview vendors of similar devices to understand the market and how communication around anaemia and blood diseases is most efficient in india, this would later enable us to properly define how the product could be introduced and how healthcare providers could be instructed to communicate with patients to further prevent the illness.

Ccocreation session
Interviews to prototype
Different desaign research methods were used to understand patients, care givers and other stakeholders.
Mapping the patient journey and identifying opportunities

When the research period was finished, it was time to analyse and synthesise findings. We mapped the patient journey and identified potential opportunities for the device. Using empathy maps we further defined target groups amongst the caregivers. Additionally, we defined feature requirements and limitations for the physical device as well as the interface.

The key insights were: 

  1. Design to suit all levels of medical care: There is an immense education gap amongst healthcare staff from 24h trained nurses to specialist doctors, which means the device needs to suit a wide range of medical expertise.
  2. Bring the device and anaemia test to people's homes: Patients in rural areas struggle to get to the health centres due to lack of transportation or income, not being able to afford missing one day of work; therefore, ASHA nurses – who focus on rural areas – are a key target user and portability is a priority for the device itself.
  3. Opportunity to not only test and cure anaemia but to prevent it: Anaemia is easily treatable and somehow preventable but often misunderstood by patients; thus, the device must empower nurses and doctors to better explain patients what anaemia is and how to prevent it.
The patient journey was mapped based on research findings
Designing a new TouchB device & experience

The project continued with design focusing on three areas: the device, its interface and the strategy to introduce it in the market. There were several iteration rounds with user tests in between: from evaluating several shapes for the plastic shell to creating the flows for the interface on a simple, low-cost screen or testing the symbols to be used on the buttons. 

As result we designed device that combined a low-cost shell with a graphical interface which can be used by care givers with different education levels. The product is portable and can be transported in a carrying case which also includes an infographic to explain patients what the device is for, what anaemia actually means and how to prevent it in the future.  All of this would enable Biosense to ensure low-cost production, reduce the complexity of the interactions for care givers with basic training and enable patients to further understand the results.

Clay models to test ergonomics
Designing the ToucHb: research analysis, prototyping the device and desgning the interface
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Drop me a line! I am always happy to chat over coffee - and cake.
Drop me a line! I am always happy to chat over coffee - and cake.
Maria Hock - 2018