User Research and early concepts for a wearable device that continuosly monitors baby's necessary vitals to detect Apnea and Hypothermia in neo-natal ICU and alerts the nurse when distress conditions are detected.
My Role: Contextual Inquiry and observations, Concept Development, Product Design
Awards: Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Team: Founding Team, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineer
Saving lives of 400,000 premature babies every year
Out of 8 million premature babies that are born in India every year, more than 400,000 die. They are highly susceptible to life-threatening conditions like Apnea, Hypothermia, and Respiratory distress and 80% of these deaths are preventable. And most of these deaths happen in low-income communities. Through desktop research and interviews, we have identified that this happens due to 3 main reasons:
No Timely Intervention
Lack of accurate detection of conditions and alerting for timely intervention required to prevent injury
Lack of Resources and Delayed Attention
In low resource setting, due to lack of manpower, attention to apnea and hypothermia is delayed or absent. Early discharge due to lack of family and institutional resources increases the risk
Current devices are expensive with high rate of false alarms.
Wearables for babies
Observation and Contextual Inquiry
The Co-founder and I visited hospitals in Hyderabad, India to learn about their work routine, current monitoring system, and knowledge of mobile devices. The idea was to do an area specific(state-wise) user study and develop strategies to expand in other areas. We recruited nurses, doctors, neonate's family, hospital admin to do our user interviews and contextual inquiry. They belonged to both rural areas and cities, small scale and large scale hospitals.
Through this research, we realized that there is a major need for intervention in hospital settings(more than home) to prevent Apnea and Hypothermia. The three users for Nemocare are Nurses, Doctors and Hospital Admins. Nurses and Doctors are going to use this device every day while the hospital admin uses it only to make changes/monitor patient data.
Once the baby is delivered by the doctor, the nurse plays a major role in monitoring the baby, but they are understaffed.
Information entry and sharing is a major part of the nurse's daily routine and is extremely time-consuming. They rather focus on monitoring babies.
Current equipment is bulky, intimidating to the mother and often gives false alarms.
Monitoring gets difficult when the baby is shifted to wards.
I was involved in low-fidelity prototyping of the wearable along with one of the Co-founders. We explored different sensors to get accurate readings and fabricated it in a way that it can be tested without intimidating baby's parents. I also designed wireframes and low-fi screens for the app, both on mobile and desktop to run initial tests on the nurses.