Bed Free

The Bed Free app is designed to help users locate the nearest available bed space for patients in cases of emergency. What makes this project unique is that it goes a step beyond searching for the nearest hospital, but rather emergency bed spaces. The project was designed specifically for societies where emergency response is slow, and their hospitals have few bed spaces available. This design is an iteration of the previous one that I had worked on in 2018 to cater to hospitals and emergency care in Nigeria.

My Role
UX Designer
User Research, Strategy, Wireframing, and Prototyping

Project Overview and Features

Easy Acces To Emergency Services
Through the Bed Free app, users can easily navigate through different emergency needs by using the swipe/scrolling gesture. Also, they can search for specific services without going through a list.

Considering that getting emergency service is one of the unique uses of the Bed Free app, this feature makes it possible and efficient.

Real-time Progress Update
After an emergency service has been selected and a hospital found, users can see progress in realtime while they are making it towards the hospital. This is specifiically most helpful in situations where there is unavoidable traffic on a route.

The app also provides a feature where users can choose to take a new route just by clicking the "new route" button.

Project Opportunity

The Bed Free project was designed specifically for developing societies that have a slow response during emergencies. It was created in 2018 as part of a monthly proactive design challenge at my place of work. Research with healthcare professionals and personal anecdotes revealed that during emergencies, lives are lost due to unavailable bed spaces often caused by insufficient information and unpreparedness on the part of people and the healthcare system respectively. The benefit of a solution like this is that users can now gain better access to information and hospitals can become more prepared for emergencies.

Project Background

Cases of victims dying at the emergency ward due to lack of bed space remains a problem in most hospitals in developing countries. This can easily be described as the “No bed space”. According to reports by the World Health Organization in 2004, the number of hospital beds per 10000 people was 5. Over the years, this number has almost doubled because the volume of patients has increased and the supply of emergency bed space has not. Here is an anecdote from someone below gotten from a social media post.

User Research

We were a small team of; two designers, a writer, and a social designer on this project. As one of the designer on this project, I initiated the research process by first gathering secondary data and anecdotes from people who at some point has had an emergency need. I and other members of the team visited a few hospitals to interview experts to understand the flow of patients through the emergency room. The information gathered from the hospital team involved understanding the current system in place to manage cases of emergency, and for patients and families, it was was an opportunity to know what actions they take in cases of emergencies when there are no first responders to come to their rescue. After observing patients, I came up with different personas as a way of synthesising the information and narrowing down on the user need. Once this was decided and brainstormed with other members of the team, we decided to create an app that helps locate the closest free bed space in cases of emergency. After developing low-fidelity prototype, I carried out usability testing with friends and staff from 2 hospitals, and this was an opportunity to iterate on-the-go without much investment in a detailed build.

Research Insights

Key Insight 1: High mortality rates can be attributed to a delay in moving victims from the site of an accident to the point of receiving treatment.

Key Insight 2: The current approach in documenting available emergency bed spaces in the hospital is inadequate and sometimes more problematic in cases of high patient traffic.

Key Insight 3: Hospitals are willing to accommodate as many patients as possible only if the patient flow is properly managed from the point of accident.

Key Insight 4: Time of transfer from one hospital to another due to lack of hospital equipment and understaffing can result in death in many cases.

Key Insight 5: Users are keen to use their smartphones in cases of emergency for documentation and report (taking pictures and sharing them on social media and news sites), and as such similar motivation can make them utilize an application that solves the problem of emergency bed space if the platform is available.


Process of Use

  • Step 1. The user opens the app on a smartphone or submits a request via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) code.
  • Step 2. In cases of emergency, users can bypass initial setup and go directly to pick an emergency need.
  • Step 3. Once a hospital emergency bed place has been called by the app, the closest available bed space pops up. Navigation begins.
  • Step 4. Once the user has received medical care, an option for rating and sharing their experience pops up.

Paper Prototyping

Using paper prototypes for initial iterations of the design was useful being that it was inexpensive and made it easy to get honest feedback from people. Team members found it as an efficient process to easily contribute to the design. I enjoyed every moment of working in the rough using paper prototypes.

Thanks for stopping by!
Do not hesitate to email me to discuss a future project, an opening or to chat anything of interest over a cup of coffee.