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This is a research networking project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. Grant No. AH/R003882/1

Start date: November 2017

Finish date: December 2018

About

The aim of the project is to help improve the health and well-being of people living in rural communities in India through the establishment of a multidisciplinary international collaboration and the application of user-led design research methods such as ‘design thinking’.

Improving the health and well-being of rural communities in India is a complex problem that requires an understanding of a range of different factors including social context, technical possibilities, medical expertise, healthcare resources and economic constraints. Design thinking is an approach to innovation that has been very successful over the last twenty years in tackling such complex problems by exploring the interrelationships between these key factors. It is multidisciplinary by nature. Design thinking focuses on understanding the needs of people, and exploring how technical possibilities can meet those needs while also understanding how economic constraints affect the viability of possible solutions.

Objectives

The main objectives of the project are to explore how design thinking approaches can be used to develop new healthcare solutions in rural India; establish multidisciplinary collaboration; train key personnel in how to use design thinking techniques and tools; investigate the implications for policy and strategy; and share the ideas developed and lessons learnt.

The main objectives for the project are to be achieved through:

1.  Understanding and documenting the current situation and challenges faced in rural villages in India with regards to healthcare, including the cultural context.

2. Establishing a multidisciplinary research network of international experts in the fields of user-led design, medicine, computer science and technology to share knowledge and exchange ideas in relation to healthcare support for the developing world.

3. Training researchers and health workers in India on how to employ user-led design research methods such as ‘design thinking’ to generate new ideas and possible solutions.

4. Conducting an interactive ‘design thinking’ workshop with key stakeholders and international experts to discover key challenges and opportunities; generate ideas for possible new solutions; and evaluate their potential benefits as well as their feasibility and viability.

5. Creating a plan for developing possible solutions further, through future collaborative projects.

6. Disseminating findings from the project to the academic community, policy makers, the healthcare community in India, and technology companies.

Partners

Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK

Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, India

University of Agder, Norway

Key collaborators in the project are the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering at Amrita School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, India; Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kochi, India; Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital, Wayanad, India; the Centre for eHealth and Care Technology at the University of Agder, Norway; and the Cardiff School of Art and Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

 The Cardiff School of Art and Design have been undertaking internationally leading user-led design research for over a decade, and for the last five years have focused on developing new healthcare solutions in sub-Saharan Africa (including Zambia and Namibia) using ‘design thinking’ approaches.

The Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering and the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham have been working in collaboration with Amrita Kripa Charitable Hospital and the non-governmental organization Amrita SeRVe to help develop self-reliant villages in the Wayanad district of Kerala, India.

The Centre for eHealth and Care Technology at the University of Agder in Norway are internationally leading experts in remote healthcare solutions covering aspects of user-centred design and technology research and have successfully deployed mobile health solutions across Norway in collaboration with local health authorities.