How design thinking can manage the effect of Coronavirus
At the end of December 2019, Chinese public health authorities reported several cases of acute respiratory syndrome in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. Chinese scientists soon identified a novel coronavirus as the main causative agent. The disease is now referred to as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the causative virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The initial outbreak in Wuhan spread rapidly, affecting other parts of China. Cases were soon detected in several other countries. Outbreaks and clusters of the disease have since been observed in Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and the Americas. (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control — ECDC)
In this article I shared workable ideas on how using the human-centered approach can manage the effect of coronavirus. This virus has a lot to do with humans and I believe ‘Design Thinking’ having empathy as one of its core activities will be of great value in providing necessary means to curtailing this deadly disease. Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO referred to Design Thinking as a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.
“Design is more than creating beautiful objects. We’ve embraced the broad notion of design that includes ‘design thinking’; the use of empathy, problem definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing (a non-linear iterative process) to solve practical problems in areas not traditionally associated with design.” (Clay Chandler; Fortune)
Using design thinking enables us to properly define the problem statement. In doing this we ask the ‘How might we…’ questions? “How might we manage coronavirus effectively?”
Design thinking can help;
- Improve the healthcare system
- Develop new technologies that is able to monitor and map real-time data on urban population
- Improve urban hygiene and safety
- Organize cities more efficiently
- Help scientists and public health officials to communicate information about the geography of a disease.
I will be sharing two insights and how using design thinking can provide technological solutions “How might we manage coronavirus effectively?”
- Empathy — In design thinking, empathy aids our design research in order to provide appropriate solution to the defined problem. I looked at two categories of coronavirus cases where empathy could be applied; Patient Care and Stigmatization.
- Patient Care — Medical professionals have been at the forefront of this battle and this as further proven the empathic nature of their profession. Coronavirus case as come with isolation centers and getting quarantined. Many people feel neglected at isolation centers as they have been restricted from having access to their day to day activities and getting cut off from their loved ones, regardless of how short the given days may look it gets to seem longer than stipulated time. One of the core reasons to live is a sense of love; when you are able to love and feel loved. How can medical facilities improve their emphatic approach to covid-19 patients?
By using a technology that can interface between the patient and the outside world — We can have a screen in each ward that allows virtual video call to patients, the doctors can be able to talk to them without wearing overalls and give them updates on their health status, the patients can also ask questions as it pertains to their health. Their friends and family can also have access to them through same channel subsequently till they get well.
- Stigmatization — There has been cases of discharged coronavirus patient after been tested negative, but my concern has been how they will be effectively integrated back into the society without the feeling of stigmatization. Although the health system did a good job not releasing patient identity but there are some cases of known individuals, how will they cope? I did a poll of 100 people both male and female about stigmatization, their responses were quite similar about the way they will react to a formerly diagnosed coronavirus patient, which has to do with still taking the preventive measures that were given until they have a proper assurance that the person is truly free of the virus. However, there were questions raised that could be helpful;
How will they be sure the formerly affected individual is truly negative? Being aware that some individuals that were tested negative later tested to be positive.
Is the treatment they were given at the medical center totally eradicates the disease or subside it just like malaria or typhoid that could come back after sometime?
These are the questions that were raised which needed clarity and the need for sensitization. Moreover, there are technological ideas that could be helpful:
Artificial Intelligence — wearable devices that can easily give details about another person’s temperature level could be invented.
Electronic payment should be highly encouraged.
2. Sensitivity — Design thinking can utilize various communication medium to reach out to people on the state of the virus. How will discharged individual be accepted back into the society without the masses getting frightened of contacting the virus? Both discharged persons and the masses need to be sensitized. Like the way other viruses has been tackled such as HIV/AIDS, initially everyone was fearful but through adequate information people were able to relate properly with infected individuals and stigmatization was reduced to barest minimum.
- Launching awareness campaigns — Using every available digital platform and exploiting other means of reaching out to rural areas will improve the enlightenment of people on how they can avoid contacting the virus and how they can accept the discharged individual back into the society. Hence, stigmatization is contained.
What makes design thinking a social technology is its ability to counteract the biases of innovators and change the way they engage in the innovation process. (Jeanne Credtka; HBR)