Design Process

Redefining the Design Process for Addressing Global Health Challenges

The World Health Organization reports that up to 80% of health technologies (specifically, medical devices) in low-resource settings are acquired by donation, and one study finds that only 30% of donated medical devices are operational. Of the technologies that are operational, many do not meet the needs of existing health care systems and are not used effectively or efficiently. While NIH/NSF research grants and private philanthropy groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Welcome Trust fund the design and development of health technologies to improve global health, the majority of these technologies originating in the academy 1) never transition from the conception phase to implementation and market penetration phases or 2) have substantial implementation and adoption delays. The delay or lack of adoption occurs because the design process used to create these technologies did not adequately incorporate a structured and rigorous understanding of important factors such as user preferences, cost-effectiveness, market dynamics, cultural acceptance, and health system and societal structures. The ability of a health technology to adequately and appropriately meet the needs of people living in low-resource settings depends on a multidisciplinary design process that includes inputs from public health experts, medical scientists, engineers/technology developers, as well as business specialists skilled in product adoption and distribution.

There are no global health technology successes (or institutional best practices) that showcase or demonstrate an integrated multidisciplinary design process. This lack of successful case studies inhibits large technology developers and technology development funders from incorporating and/or requiring such approaches in their development processes or those of their grant awardees. The primary objectives of this Team Development grant are to 1) assemble a multidisciplinary team to address the need for a transformative process for designing global health technologies, 2) develop a preliminary framework for the design process, 3) conduct a preliminary evaluation of the framework using a test case, and 4) prepare and submit a Phase I proposal.

Project Team:

Kathleen Sienko, College of Engineering
Prashant Yadav, Ross School of Business and School of Public Health
Achyuta Adhvaryu, Ross School of Business
Tim Johnson, Medical School and College of Literature, Science and the Arts
Zoe McLaren, School of Public Health