Records for Life : Crowd Sourcing of the Design of Health Information


A crowdsourcing competition may not be seen as a significant step towards addressing life changing concerns in health care but BMGF partnered with CKS and took this leap of faith to address challenges around perception and tracking of immunizations, drop-outs in RI cycles and looking at the concept of health and protection through the lens of a health card thereby creating a new approach to design research through the Records for Life Project.

So, the mandate of this competition was three fold:

1: Develop a global crowdsourcing platform and involve the masses in re-designing the child health record

2: Re-evaluate this in order to better meet the needs of the health care providers and caregivers

3: Focus on immunization, healthcare information and artefacts.

IMG_1712It has been often argued that immunization is the prerequisite for good health and increased life expectancy, and in turn, it contributes to both economic and social well being. Hence, aligning the concept of immunization with a crowdsourcing competition to generate content and context appropriate health artefacts added a new dynamic to the CKS design research methodology.

One might wonder what does crowdsourcing have to do with immunization?Well,  I feel It is important to discern that for an effectively smooth immunization cycle, its various elements must work in harmony with each other, the health record being the crux of it. In this nexus of policy making, state action, health, caregivers and service providers, the health record is the sole key player. Ideally it is an effective and inexpensive method of record keeping; a point-of-care of information for resource that can augment the health worker’s ability to make better clinical decisions and empower parents to make informed health decisions for their children and support the public health monitoring system.

IMG_0098Despite its potential to provide adequate record of immunization history and its potential contribution to child health as a source of health monitoring data, the team found challenges in and around the current health card which was counterproductive to the concept of routine immunization that hampered the card from fulfilling its intended purpose. Immunization is a world wide area of concern and understanding people’s perspectives and insights around the same is a pretty intelligent way of tackling aforementioned challenges. This is where the crowdsourcing paradigm fits in.


Crowdsourcing as platform for knowledge creation and sharing:
The first stage of the project dealt with a global design contest targeting three primary audiences for submissions; professionals in the public health space, design companies and firms or individual designers, and students majoring in either design or public health.

The great thing about crowd sourcing ideas is that it forms a viral, virtual and dynamic network of people, information and knowledge sharing and leverages the creative capacity of a larger pool of talent. Creatives and subject matter professionals from across the world perceive and respond to the design challenge in different ways which helps curators to build informed and holistic design directions.

This particular contest percolated to nearly 20 design blogs, 85 design organizations, the Global Immunization Newsletter, and the top design and public health universities around the world. It was engaging with the relevant audience very quickly which could be seen through the sheer number of expressions of interest and questions that the Gates Foundation received from universities (two months after launch, they were receiving an average of five to ten emails per day; this reached nearly twenty emails per day by the contest closing week!). The crowdsourcing pull resulted in 314 submissions from 41 different countries with an even mix of academic and professional entrants.

These entries were evaluated by a panel of 20 public health experts and design specialists and underwent a thorough CKS formulated evaluation framework (which looked at the entries from various parameters at multiple levels) to down-select to 60 design card entries.

Brain storming boardThe team disaggregated these cards based on parameters of design, key data fields and visual language and segregated them into cue cards and complete cards, which were finally brought down to a total tally of 30 ranging into a wide array of options based on  materials, forms, structure, color, information fields, immunization schedules and health care information.

This crowdsourcing contest served as an important first step to better our understanding of how people perceive health, information, technology and design together and helped map out the team’s approach into fieldwork, analysis and insights and recommendations in a more systematic, dynamic and productive manner.

Persona and scenario building 3

For the complete project report, click here.

We are also proud to add that recently Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has mentioned that CKS, by way of the Bihar Innovation Lab and the Records for Life Project, is one of the nine key players in changing the face of Vaccine Delivery in the world.

For the article link, click here.

More on the team’s work on field protocols and devised design insights, in posts to follow. Stay tuned!

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