"Halfway Gala" in the Design Thinking Project 2023 with the University of Applied Sciences Mannheim
Chat bots, augmented reality and interactive status dashboards - this is how the students of the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences imagine possible solutions to support HITA e.V. and its project partners from 1Bed4All. Since March, 13 creative minds have been working on design ideas to support the maintenance and administration of hospital beds and other hospital inventory in rural areas of Africa. You can read about getting started with the Design Challenge here: https://hita-ev.org/design-thinking-workshop/. HITA e.V. presents the assignment in this semester course. The students will be supervised on site by Professor Kirstin Kohler and Clara Dieing. The name of the interdisciplinary innovation incubator at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences says it all: inno.space(https://inno-space.de/)! After about half of the semester, the three teams present their continuously developing prototypes to Thomas Erkert and Daniel Gerlach from HITA e.V.. In design thinking, the task is first analyzed. For this purpose, so-called personas are developed. These personalized user groups give the user a face as the project progresses. Team "BedSpace Ghana" thus works with the imaginary nurse Abena Mansah. In this way, the students not only give the users a face, but also a life story and personality. Abena Mansah is said to work in a medium-sized hospital and to be a mother of five children. In addition, there is Yao Asamoah, the administrative assistant of team "MANA". Yao is also said to be married, but, according to the results of the research work, takes care of the preparation of accounts and the procurement of materials. The team "Think Tank Titans" still agreed on the character Amam Muji, in addition to a nurse. Amam is a janitor whose assumed mechanical and technical abilities the developers try to take into account as much as the scarce resource availability attributed to him.
How can these personas be helped in their daily work? What helps them the most? The "design thinkers" have been addressing this question for several weeks now and are continuously developing possible solution ideas, some of which have been elaborated as so-called "low-fidelity prototypes" and then in turn further developed into so-called "mid-fidelity prototypes". This means that initial ideas have been transformed into a simple functional model using paper, scissors and pencil, for example, and then elaborated into operable demonstrators on the laptop. The course would now like to know from Thomas Erkert and Daniel Gerlach which of the solutions they think have the greatest chance of success, i.e. which proposals should be worked on further. What is certain is that a "ChatBot", i.e. a computer program that can independently answer technical questions and communicate naturally with the user via voice or text input, will be part of the solution. All three teams had envisioned this as a possible solution.
The current technical development allows, for example, the integration into chat programs, such as "WhatsApp" or the integration of entire technical manuals for an intelligent full text search. Students and HITA representatives were also in direct agreement on the following point: the knowledge and experience of real users on the ground must not be replaced by technical possibilities, but should be usefully supplemented by artificial intelligence and programmed algorithms. The later solution should be built in such a way that people like to use it. For this purpose, a further exchange with experts from the health care sector in Ghana is planned, as will take place in March 2023, among others. Read more about the video conference between Ghana and Mannheim here: https://hita-ev.org/29-03-2023-reisebericht-5-ghana-reise/. Thomas Erkert and Daniel Gerlach are enthusiastic about the students' commitment and can imagine continuing to supervise some of the ideas, for example as part of master's theses or joint projects with inno.space, until they are regularly deployed. Clara Dieing also confirms the students' motivation following the midterm meeting: "The students are already on fire again and continue to work diligently!"