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Re-imagine child healthcare in Europe

How to leverage AI and technology to improve quality of life for rural people in deep poverty?

The Challenge


How to leverage AI and technology to improve quality of life for rural people in deep poverty? - Was the mission call of the international idea hackathon conducted by EdUcate with the participation of European Health Management Association (EHMA). Countries from all over Europe came together to focus on trying to solve this problem in a way that truly made a difference for people everywhere.

The Process


Conducting an idea hackathon with an international cross functional team meant we had experiences and ideas from many different kinds of people. With the guidance of EdUcate, university students, healthcare experts and medical doctors worked together seamlessly to create viable solutions for a meaningful humane problem.


EdUcate organized the marathon, explained the process and deliverables, and why they would be beneficial, then provided design thinking training to over 100 participants prior to the start of the event. Having this common ground meant efficient multidisciplinary teams who could work on problems together regardless of their previous experiences. By speaking with experts, ultimate end users and conducting research, we came established that:


1) Meeting basic needs of people - like measuring blood pressure, weight and blood sugar - living in rural areas would make a huge difference, not to mention get used more often without the expense and complexity of trying for something bigger - like an mri machine.


2) Every solution needs to be readily accessible and work intuitively for an average user - who is often unfamiliar with medical procedures - since there is minimal access to a nurse or doctor and often ill people help each other or rely on themselves.


With these design criteria in mind, the idea hackathon began. Over the course of 3-years 6 events took place with the participation of 100 individuals in 6 different multidisciplinary teams. For the week-long journey, we mentored teams and guided them through ideation and prototyping, helping them clearly define needs and produce viable solutions. From videos, flip charts, reenactments and cardboard models, physical products as well as educational materials were produced to demonstrate the impact of various solutions. The solutions were shown to and tested by medical professionals who provided valuable insights to the prototypes so they could be improved upon prior to implementation.

Impact


While many different solutions stemmed from the hackathon, the importance of the social aspect of the problem was always kept in focus. No matter how great an innovation, if the patient never uses it - whether due to lack of education or access - it is meaningless. An emphasis was placed on unusual parts of the process, like where and how to place equipment so it would be practical for users. A blood pressure gage in a pub or church for example, may seem unusual at first, but after examining behaviours of users it became clear that in many villages these places serves as the communal hub and place for gathering. It is what everybody is familiar and comfortable with, which was key in making the chosen solution accessible.


Beyond the obvious outcome of this hackathon - the improved access to healthcare in rural areas - the benefit to the participants is also worth mentioning. Over the course of the 6-weeks, international relationships and valuable interdisciplinary connections were forged. The Design Thinking mindset introduced will also remain a helpful tool in the arsenals of participants in any future projects they partake in.


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