Sustainable Obstetrics Care | Lucie Vanhollebeke & Nada Riad Maarouf
Image of a crumpled photo of a clinical tool

Nordsjællands Hospital, Regional Consultants, Copenhagen Health Innovation

Background Reading, Interviewing, Design Workshop, Clinical Observation, Brainstorming, Graphic Design

What makes a 'good' bedside ventilator, diabetic insulin pump, mobile therapy app, triage process, or experience of care? As advances in technology expand our capacity to influence healthcare through engineering solutions, so increases our need to understand the patients, professionals and services whose needs and aspirations we design for.

The primary objective of the Human-Centred Health Technology Design course is to enable the biomedical engineering student to engage in the human-centred design of health technology, employing tools and methods grounded in human-computer interaction and design research theory. Working together in teams, students devise and observe a human-centred design research process with the aim of producing an innovative concept solution to a complex real-world challenge in the practice of healthcare presented by expert stakeholders.

In 2022, as little as 22% of the waste produced by the Capital Region of Denmark's hospitals was recycled — figures which both the hospitals and region aspire to together transform by the year 2030. And a challenge which BSc students Lucie and Nada took on in January 2022 — in striving to design to improve the ecological sustainability of tools and materials employed across in-hospital and out-patient obstetric and gynaecological care. Through interviews, online workshops and in-person observations of doctors, nurses, hospital administrators and regional consultants' work, Lucie and Nada came to understand this wicked real-world problem as complicated by factors spanning significant plastics and single use device use in everyday care, the use of mixed materials in packaging, and divergent opinions as to the need for sterile versus clean tools, as well as other sorting, communication and strategic challenges.

With the goal of improving the sustainability of clinical tools and packaging - while maintaining quantities, accessibility, quality and health security - Lucie and Nada developed six concept solutions to improve communication across the hospital hierarchy, support all stakeholders' engagement in taking action, provide help with the overview and sorting of waste, help key stakeholders to be heard, capture hospital staff's attention in creative ways, and to reduce waste when possible.