The best design ideas sometimes materialize when having to deal with many constraints. It focuses the creative process in order to overcome these challenges. One area of the world where the constraints are many and the demand for healthcare solutions is huge is in developing countries.
Some of the typical constraints are poor infrastructure, small budgets, high demand for healthcare services, and lack of trained and skilled healthcare professionals. Highly robust products, cheap products, scalable solutions and easy to learn-and-use solutions are all solutions that address these constraints. Such solutions would not only address the problem in developing countries but also provide innovative and highly desirable features to the healthcare system in the rest of the world!
A recent article by Forbes Magazine discusses this potential and states that “…I see is that entrepreneurs who start serving the rising billions today will be the leaders of tomorrow”
Cases from Design That Matters: NeoNurture and Firefly
An example of designs targeted developing countries popularized by Steven Johnson in his book “Where good ideas come from” is the example of NeoNurture (See a quick intro to the book in this TED-talk). NeoNurture is an incubator designed out of spare part from a Toyota because the parts and skills to maintain a Toyota are widely available in developing countries. Thereby NeoNurture addresses the problem about skills (maintaining the device) and infrastructure (availability of spare parts).
Unfortunately, the product newer made it to the market. Timothy Prestero talked about how he and his company behind “Design that Matters” took the lessons from the failed product and learned how they needed to shift focus from “product” to “outcome”. That included designing in the eco-system around the product. In this highly inspiring TED-talk he summarizes his findings and also talked about their newest project Firefly – a newborn phototherapy device for low-resource hospitals.