Users have access to different emergency needs by using the swipe/scrolling gesture from top to bottom.
Users can also do a quick search for a specific need.
Users can see in realtime the progress that they are making towards the hospital.
In cases when there is traffic as shown on the app, they can choose to take a new route.
The Bed Free project was designed specifically for developing societies that witness slow response in cases of emergencies. It was designed in 2018 as part of a monthly proactive project at my workplace. I brought up the challenge of getting bed space during cases of emergency, and everyone on the team could resonate with the problem caused by the slow and inefficient healthcare system at the time.
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.
We were a 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.
The design process was iterative having each phase in the project milestone requiring some amount of modification and adjustment to the initial findings. Most times, it was as a result of inadequate insight from users or individual biases.
To solve this, it required stretching the research process longer to get more 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.
Hospitals can update their information realtime as they get vacant bed spaces. Considering that healthcare in most developing societies is mainly privately owned, they tend to operate a profit-oriented model, whereby patient traffic into their facility is a priority.
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.
I intend to integrate a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) code to make the app accessible to those without a smartphone.
One key learning amongst many others on this project was the need for early testing and prototyping of the design to save time, cost and ultimately solve a real problem. Also, speaking to experts, patients and also colleagues was a good way to move the project through the different phases.