Simple
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Simple

A nurse and a Community Health Officer sharing their ideas for Simple at a Health and Wellness Centre in Bathinda, Punjab

Co-creation with nurses

How we make better software for our users by creating solutions together

Set the challenge

The Simple app has a section called “Progress” where users can track how many blood pressures are recorded and how many patients have a follow-up visit every month. This “Progress” tab is a useful feedback loop for healthcare workers to see if they are managing patients effectively. The challenge was to make the feedback loops more useful to our users and ideally encourage positive actions at work.

The progress tab shows statistics for a facility, to encourage healthcare workers in their work

Prepare

For our co-creation exercise, we wanted to come to the table with some ideas already partly prepared. In our experience, when a co-creation process starts with a completely blank slate, the participants have a hard time getting into the flow. So, a few days before we went to the field, we created some rough concepts to kindle a strong discussion with our users.

Set the stage

Our users (nurses, pharmacists, and doctors) are always busy attending to long queues of patients. So, we waited for a 15-minute window of free time, and then laid out all of our design ideas in front of each user. For instance, we would ask a nurse to pick the ideas that she found most interesting and have her explain to us why she liked them. All the users looked at the ideas one by one and understood most of them. (We were glad we kept the designs simple!)

Solicit new ideas

As they shared their feedback on the pre-baked, existing ideas, we encouraged our users to suggest their own new ideas. They suggested:

What we learned about this process

Lesson 1: Just the right amount of fidelity

Using paper prototypes helped us to focus the users’ attention on the parts that really mattered — the content, not the design. The low fidelity prototypes also set the bar low, so nurses felt comfortable criticising the ideas and also gave them confidence to present their own ideas even if they couldn’t draw well.

Lesson 2: Choices are empowering

Nurses and doctors felt involved in the decision making process behind an app that they use every day. They expressed that they felt safe and motivated to express their thoughts. Also, because they could choose from many ideas, there was no pressure to be right or wrong.

Lesson3: Get your users to be creative

When your users are busy with daily responsibilities and repetitive tasks, it is hard to suddenly switch context and start thinking creatively. This paper-based activity lowered the bar and allowed nurses and doctors to imagine scenarios “out of the device.” Pen and paper, and the inspiration of seeing our ideas in front of them, effectively shifted their mindset to creatively suggest ways our software could make their work life better.

Thanks

Thanks to Varenya Raj, Akshay Verma, Tanushree Jindal, and Daniel Burka who worked on this project. And, most of all, sincere thanks to our users who not only managed to take out time for us during their busy working hours, but also help us create solutions that make Simple better for their colleagues around the world.

My role

I am a product designer at Obvious.in, in Bangalore, where I lead our design work on the Simple project. We work with Resolve to Save Lives and their partners in IHCI (the India Hypertension Control Initiative). I strive to retain the simplicity of ‘Simple’ to ensure health care professionals (who are doing the really hard work of saving lives) find the software to be easy, intuitive, and obvious to use.

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