Designing a non-invasive anemia testing device for rural India

User Research, UX Design

2012, Mumbai IN

a person holding the Touchb prototype
ToucHb prototype

A medical device that meets the needs of women and healthcare providers in rural India

Anemia has a high incidence in rural India. This is especially critical for women during pregnancy, resulting in high mortality rates during childbirth.

Biosense developed an affordable, non-invasive technology to detect anemia allowing caregivers to give the necessary treatment on time. However, the device's design needed to met expectations from India's healthcare providers and patient needs.

interviewing women in India
Conducting ethnographic research in Mumbai

Ethnographic research to understand India's healthcare system and user needs

We spent two months immersed in rural India conducting visits, interviews, and generative sessions with different healthcare providers like ASHAS (women trained to support communities with healthcare topics), private and public medical practitioners, and NGO doctors.

On the other hand, we interviewed medical device vendors to understand the market and facilitated a vision session with Biosense to uncover business drivers and potential limitations.

roleplaying with doctors at a mobile medical centre in India
a woman drawing her idea of a detection device
interviewing health care providers in rural India
interviewing vendors in India
Sessions with healthcare providers using multiple research methods

01 / Education level varies from one caregiver to another

Users are not always highly educated medical practitioners: There is an immense variety of education levels among caregivers who use the device, from 24h trained ASHA nurses to specialist doctors. Therefore, the device needs to allow for a wide range of medical expertise.

02 / Women cannot take time or money to go to a health center

Testing women at home means higher reach. Patients in rural areas struggle to go to the health centers due to lack of transportation or income. ASHA nurses – who work with communities in rural areas – are a vital target user, and device portability is a priority.

03 / There is little awareness on how to prevent anemia

Anemia is treatable and usually preventable, but is often unknown and misunderstood by patients; thus, the device must empower nurses to inform women about anemia and what they can do to prevent it.

Summarised patient journey, mapped based on research findings

A portable detection device focused on prevention

After synthesizing the findings from the research in India, product design kicked in in The Netherlands. With Biosense, we created 3D models and selected the electronic components for the device. Users provided feedback throughout the process from the plastic shell's shape to the interface flows or the button's symbols. 

The redesigned device combines a low-cost shell with a more sophisticated graphical interface for visual guidance, which can be used by caregivers of all education levels. The product is portable and transported in a carrying case and an infographic to help nurses teach patients about anemia.

Clay models to test ergonomics
the Touchb prototype with the case and the visual instructions
Clay models, prototype and user flow
maria hock / Made with ❤️ in Berlin DE / 2023