This project aims to use design perspective with the help of technology to solve practice problems of rural healthcare settings in order to prevent potential panic for future pandemic.
Fall 2015 // 4 Weeks
Design Research, Design Strategy, User Experience Design
“The reality is that in America ... the risk is still quite low. Caution is important, obviously [but] the real issue is a different one: Our fear of Ebola has become many times worse than the problem.”
- - Forbes
In 2014, four confirmed cases of Ebola were diagnosed in the United States—two of which were contracted inside our own country. In response, hospitals all over the country began setting their own guidelines, procedures, and protocols to prepare for combating and containing this virus if it were to walk through their doors. After a couple months of mass media coverage and population fear, the virus was said to have been successfully contained and the United States was declared “Ebola free.”
In the aftermath of this situation, healthcare professionals were able to see several areas within our system which would have been the source for many problems if the epidemic had become worse. These issues revolved around three main themes: communication, education, and containment. Fixing some of these problem spaces would be extremely beneficial in case of a future epidemic situations, and could also better the entire healthcare industry.
Subject Matter Expert
We began our research by talking with Philip Green M.D., a Lead Physician who is also on the Ebola Response Team at St. Mary’s Hospital in Walla Walla, Washington. He provided us with an overview of the healthcare system of Walla Walla and current infrastructure protocols and procedures in case of an epidemic.
He then focused mostly on Ebola and the current response infrastructure from both the CDC and each individual hospital and clinic. From the scenarios he described from the Ebola outbreak in fall of 2014, he formulated a series of problem spaces and pain points that occurred for patients, families, and the hospital staff. These can be found categorized into three themes: communication, education, and containment.
Experience mapping was used to reveal insights regarding the hospital experiences of patients to identify touch points at each stage of the experience and to focus on what are the patient’s needs, thoughts, and feelings and in what areas is there opportunities for improvement.
Popular Media Scan
Understanding what is being published and broadcasted in popular media provides insights into how an event is being portrayed, what is found to be new and noteworthy, and what is on people’s minds. For this purpose, I went back to find information regarding how Ebola was portrayed in 2014. I searched through dozens of blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers, and television broadcasts to find trends. The first theme I noticed was that the media was showing Ebola in America in a manner that was quite disproportionate to the actual threat to public health. Additionally, it often included reports of suspicions and exaggerated claims which only increased the spread of misinformation and rumors on social media and from non-professionals, which only increased the fear and anxiety among the public.
Lastly, we produced a critical path of what can occur during a pandemic outbreak. What we found from our experience map and popular media scan is that people are likely to be anxious and overly cautious during pandemic situations. This means that on the onset of any type of symptoms, people want to get immediate medical assistance and assurance.