More than just medicine: how design thinking uncovered modern patient needs

Dubai Health Authority filled in the gaps for their citizens

We’re often at our most vulnerable and stressed when we need to gather information, sort through records, and make crucial plans related to our health.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) sought to make it easier for their patients to deal with these logistics, and found that they didn’t just need help connecting to medical information; They needed help connecting to their loved ones as well.

Together with IBM, DHA tackled these issues with their award-winning products, Tifli, a pre and post-natal care app, and Hayati, an app originally meant to aid people with diabetes that was eventually expanded for other conditions.

They listened to the communities

20% of Dubai’s population has Type 2 diabetes, and there’s an increasing rate of high-risk pregnancies due to hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. So, DHA saw these communities as high priority.

Entering the project with IBM, the DHA’s challenge was to “create citizen-centric healthcare experiences, infused with innovation and powered by smart technologies to improve health, wellness, and happiness,” according to Ramsi Bedeir, CX Director in IBM’s Dubai studio.

Their first step in tackling this challenge was a design thinking workshop with pregnant women and diabetic people—as well as the people who take care of them. In this workshop, DHA employees discovered firsthand the day-to-day struggles of people in these communities. They also worked with doctors to understand roadblocks that prevented them from serving their patients better.

Through speaking with doctors, Alex Tattis, Hayati product owner and Senior CX Strategist, said they found doctors and nurses needed to spend more time with patients than their bandwidth allowed. This sparked the idea of creating a mobile app.

The app streamlines health information into one user profile that health professionals can update in real time. For example, if you went to the doctor for the vaccination, you wouldn’t have to chase down those records later, or even go through the hassle of uploading them yourself. Instead, healthcare professionals would work through the minimal logistics to make sure they’re immediately accessible to you from your mobile app.

They let their users surprise them

DHA knew going in that easier access to medical records, information, and resources for patients would be a top priority. However, co-creating with the communities they wanted to serve showed them how crucial improving emotional support systems was to the patient’s healthcare experience.

“Typically doctors know the medical things, but the emotional things… It’s difficult to understand the lifestyle,” Amani Al Jassmi, DHA Director of IT, explained.

For example, DHA and IBM found that many husbands and fathers didn’t know how to make their wives feel better during and after their pregnancy, and felt guilty whenever they couldn’t be there for the mother of their child[ren] in person. To remedy this, the team that worked on the Tifli app included a “loving nudge” feature that allowed husbands to draw their wives a heart and send a short, loving message.

Mothers also wanted a platform to share moments and emotions related to pregnancy and motherhood with their loved ones. Tifli allows them to do this. Think Facebook, but more niche and with presumably higher “friends list” standards.

They turned healthcare norms on their head

If this sounds radically different from how providers typically approach healthcare, that’s kind of the point.

This project is part of a larger digital transformation effort by the government of Dubai that Amani believes is ingrained in their national culture.

Amani acknowledges that digital transformation in healthcare is extremely difficult, which made the positive outcomes of this project even more gratifying.

“Our partnership with IBM enabled us to begin a citizen-centric journey with our citizens immediately and continue to enhance over time.” Amani said. “The mobile application strategy and Tifli and Hayati mobile apps developed by IBM Studios Dubai were the first step.”

Learn more about uncovering user needs on our platform.

Enterprise Design Thinking

Reimagining the modern enterprise, one human-centered story at a time

Enterprise Design Thinking

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Enterprise Design Thinking

Reimagining the modern enterprise, one human-centered story at a time

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