The needs finding study is investigating the digital needs of Indian health systems. It is uncovering opportunities for innovation and identifying gaps between the needs of the various stakeholders and the needs finding processes being used to identify such needs. We are using generative design research methodology to delve below participants’ superficial awareness to help them express aspirations that they may be unaware of, or are unable to put into words. Our sessions use the participants’ creativity to engage in a fun, interactive, and sometimes surprising journey of self discovery and yield innovative and insightful ideas on the digital tools needed by Indian health systems. 

The research study is engaging with a purposively selected sample of 165 participants across the Indian healthcare ecosystem, which include members from the following stakeholder groups:

  1. Patients and Caregivers: Patients and primary care givers on healthcare journeys from infancy to elderly care. 
  2. Doctors and Nurses: In government and private sector at all levels of healthcare. 
  3. Community Health Workers: Grass roots community health workers in government and NGO bodies. 
  4. Practitioners of allied health sciences: Including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and other operation theater related professions
  5. Government health system administrators: Ranging from district officers to national leaders. 
  6. Private sector health information system administrators: CIOs of tertiary hospitals and NGO health information system administrators. 
  7. Digital Health Companies: Designers and developers in digital health companies for electronic health records, mHealth systems and digital health devices.

Digital solutions related to health and health system strengthening are increasing and evolving. However, the understanding of the needs which such digital health solutions aim to address is often superficial and fragmented. The systemic lack of design research during needs finding has prevented many digital health tools from having an impact at scale. A comprehensive assessment requires the involvement of end users to elicit their workflows, challenges, and needs. Yet, end users of digital health systems are rarely included in design and development, and if they are, their needs are explored superficially. This has resulted in an overabundance of digital health tools that are not useful to patients and/or healthcare providers. There is no such existing in-depth research on the digital tool needs of the various stakeholder groups of  Indian health systems.

The Process

The study adapts generative design research methods and engages with various Indian healthcare stakeholders – including participants in the community, health facilities, and board rooms – to elicit in-depth insights efficiently. 

The generative sessions follow these steps:

  1. Map stakeholders’ workflows
  2. Assess the current system in use
  3. Participants identify pain points in their workflows
  4. Participants imagine ideal workflows and solutions 
  5. Uncover information needs from imagined solutions

The study uses flowcharts and user driven prototyping to explore the participants’ present context, past experiences, and dreams for the future.  The tool kit includes simple tools such as sticky notes, customized templates, play-dough, and lego blocks to help participants make artifacts that express their desires and aspirations.  

After generative sessions, the artifacts that the participants have made and what they’ve said while engaging in the creative process is being analyzed. We use affinity diagramming to interpret the data, obtain insights, and triangulate themes across stakeholder groups. 

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