Knocking on Doors

On an average day, two oburonis (foreigners) can be seen strutting into various hospital halls. Marching in business clothes through the equatorial heat with a large plastic box under one arm, creased notebook in the other- we look quite curious. The patients that line the walls of many of these hospitals must think we are absolutely crazy; a sentiment that is often echoed in the hospital administrator’s face upon meeting us.

Our curious look is only matched by our approach. One of our main goals (see post “Accra Bound”) over the next six weeks is to collect extensive amounts of feedback from doctors, administrators, patients and other stakeholders in the Ghanaian healthcare system. Many of these stakeholders seem to never have been asked their advice on a piece of manufactured equipment, much less a medical device. There is often a significant hesitation when we first start to ask questions, as though many of these people have never been asked what would make a difference in this hospital, surgical theatre, laboratory, etc.

Most administrators and doctors immediately assume that the prototypes that we put before them are the finished product. This has caused several faulty, though not always negative, responses. Several doctors have asked to take the Hemafuse prototype directly into a surgery- which we quickly decline and firmly hold onto the 3D-printed model, of course. Conversely, there are always those who wish the prototype looked more polished which leads us to question the importance of packaging- even for a device that could save a life.

The forgotten nurses or technicians often offer the best feedback and so we do our best to seek out a variety of sources for our feedback. This approach is not entirely novel for many human researchers, however, few medical device creators actually take the time to evaluate feedback from such varied sources including in the US. Including such a wide range of stakeholders does take significant more work and time, but it also creates more opportunities for efficient implementation with sleek, simple designs. 

Gillian holding the latest prototype of the (r)Evolve. The prototype was made possible by Geek Group, a maker space in Grand Rapids. 

Gillian holding the latest prototype of the (r)Evolve. The prototype was made possible by Geek Group, a maker space in Grand Rapids.