Jana: Remote Pregnancy Monitoring
Jana: Remote Pregnancy Monitoring
Jana tackles inefficiencies in the current provision of care to, provide a higher quality of personalised healthcare to pregnant women, living in rural areas, to assist in monitoring preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes through a wearable device.
Health problems throughout pregnancy, whether common or rare, are something which can be managed. Being on top of any potential or existing health problems boosts the chances of having a safe delivery and healthy baby. There are a variety of issues that can occur throughout pregnancy and being able to monitor symptoms ensures that doctors can be aware of potential problems.
Inspiration came from identifying that rural woman have reduced access to maternity services due to a lack of availability. Inefficiencies in the provision of care has contributed to poor health outcomes, as the current system is not aligned towards the needs of higher risk groups. By monitoring the mother at home, the wearable device and interface means she can send her symptoms, blood pressure and development, to keep doctors aware of health outcomes and help reduce doctor visits. The design features emerging technology within a personalised device that allows mothers to feel at ease, and help doctors monitor for conditions (e.g. preeclampsia and gestational diabetes).
The project began by looking into developing new applications for remote patient monitoring devices. With the continuing advancement of low power wireless technology and miniaturisation, Jana delved into exploring what form personal monitoring devices could take in regards to personal, at home health monitoring during pregnancy. Understanding the needs of pregnant mothers was done through research into particular users who developed health problems during their pregnancy.
With all this knowledge, and a competitor analysis of what exists in the market, insight was formed around how to provide a higher quality of personalised healthcare to pregnant mothers. It was clear that a gap in the market exists for a device that monitors the mother at home, while keeping their doctor aware of any changes. This was particularly needed for rural and remote mothers who developed preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, and to intervene prior to the development of these health problems.
During current maternity care, the mother has routine visits which discuss symptoms and check blood pressure, glucose levels, heart rate, and the baby’s development. As she reaches certain milestones, certain health problems, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, are checked for. If she develops any of these outcomes, more regular check-ups are required. She will need to check-in with her doctor 2-3 times a week to report her blood sugar levels if she has gestational diabetes. This design allows for women who develop health problems to become more aware, and gives doctors the ability to closely monitor mother and child.
The device integrates emerging technology to help reduce doctor visits, while providing a higher quality of personalised healthcare. Through the use of an ultrasound transducer and rare earth magnets, the mother is able to wear the device throughout her day as it monitors her glucose levels and blood pressure. When she does at home check-ups, with the integration of a mobile application, her doctor is able to assess her development as she enters information. At home check-ups involve manually entering symptoms she has experienced (bloating, cramps, fatigue), her weight, and fundal height. Her doctor is then able to send feedback, through the mobile application, and can ask her to attend the clinic if there are any concerns about her health. She still visits her doctor for compulsory tests and ultrasounds to ensure she is progressing well.
As the device tracks the mother’s glucose levels and blood pressure, the two divisions on the top act as a way of providing instant feedback to the mother. When she presses the central button, she is able to find out information pertaining to her glucose and blood pressure. She is then able to make a connection between how a situation or food is affecting her levels. Constant monitoring means that symptoms that would have previously gone unnoticed are able to be treated earlier, to prevent future complications. This results in a better outcome for both mother and child.
There has been an increase in recent years in the number of women who develop gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. With sustainability in mind, the product system means that the device is capable of being handed onto new, expecting mothers once the previous user comes to term. This allows for the device to have a longer product life, while serving a number of users. With the construction of the device, it has been made for easy disassembly at the end of its product life to allow for recycling of the components.
Within the device, there is a processor, transmitter, and an ultrasound transducer. An ultrasound transducer is a device that produces sound waves which bounce off body tissues and make echoes, it also receives the echoes and sends them to a computer to then derive the blood pressure, glucose levels and heartbeat. This allows for blood pressure and heart rate to be measured by bouncing high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off circulating red blood cells. Broad band frequency is used to generate acoustic waves in the tissue to then measure the mother’s glucose levels. The transmitter generates short optical pulses, which are either high frequency or broad frequency, to send to the ultrasound transducer. Then, the ultrasound transducer will send these pulses through the mother’s tissue layers.
The transmitter then records the ultrasound signals that are received back from the ultrasound. The transmitter sends this collected data to the processor which is then forwarded to the mobile app, and recorded for both the mother and her doctor to see. The mother is able to see any fluctuations through the mobile application on her phone. Her doctor is able to closely monitor the mother’s progress and see any abnormalities and fluctuations as well.
The development process can be overviewed as follows:
• Research into pregnancy – Information that was gathered focused on developing an understanding into pregnancy and healthcare: what is involved in check-ups, what health outcomes are there and how do they occur, what types of healthcare is available in rural and remote areas, what differs between the different healthcare options on offer (private, public or general practitioner), how does healthcare change when women develop preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
• Defining the core aims of the design outcome – Aims were defined around what was important to the design outcome in regards to the scenario and the users. The core design aims of the product are high quality, friendly, and simple. High quality means that it is able to be used multiple times throughout the product’s life. The design is friendly by being appealing and not feeling disassociated with the mother. It is simple and a device that is easy to use. The core aims acted as a means of understanding what the design requirements were to be fulfilled by the design outcome for the target audience.
• User Research – Taking findings from research, questions were composed for interviews and observation of pregnant women who had particular health outcomes during their current pregnancies. This included women with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. This involved gaining insight into the types of experiences they have – their day to day life and care that occurred during doctors’ visits. Women in both the public and private system were interviewed.
• Product Scenario / Storyboard – This was the stage that the solution was formed. Highlighting and analysing the research into pregnancy and user research made it possible to understand the intervention that could be created by implementing a remote patient monitoring system. Through creating a storyboard and scenario of the product, it defined the integral aspects of the design – the application, the device, and how the mother and doctor interacted throughout the mother’s pregnancy in relation to her healthcare. It was defined at this stage that the product would assist the mother to monitor her symptoms to prevent complications and detect early signs of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
• Product performance specification – In defining what the product needed to be able to do, it defined the way that the device needed to function, in terms of technology. This stage focused on investigating further into emerging technologies that would fulfil the functions previously defined in the product scenario.
• Mood Board – A refined mood board was created to identify the aesthetic of the design and the audience that it was targeting. This helped to create a clear picture of the user, and the type of products they would own.
• Brainstorming Summary – With a definition of the performance of the product and the scenario, ideation was done around the form. This centralised around sketching concepts, and model making to work through ideas of how the device would be worn. During this stage, the form changed as ideas were trialled in both sketches and models. At the end of this stage, concepts were narrowed down to four. This lead to the decision that the final form would use rare earth magnets, which attached the two part device between the mothers shirt.
• Concept Development – After selecting the final concept, an iterative process was undertaken where Jana took many forms. A process of prototyping out of clay was done to quickly explore forms and the way the two devices connected. This process was done with the charger as well. Paper mock ups and computer generated mobile interfaces were created to develop how the application would work and the type of information that it would collect.
The designs changed rapidly during this stage as it went through varying forms, while keeping the same function. Working through ideas with models allowed for physical interaction with the product to get a feel for it. Over 20 forms were explored during this stage, until one was selected.
• Refined Concept and clay 1:1 mock-ups – with the base form decided upon, detailing of the design started. This involve exploring how minor changes to the forms of the charger and wearable devices affected the overall design. This was done through 1:1 mock-ups and sketching.
• 3D CAD development – Once the final, refined form was decided upon, CAD was used to create a 3D model of the design. This allowed for minor tweaks to be made quickly to the designs.
• Refined and detailed concept – Completing the CAD model resulted in allowing a visual prototype to be made. A final model was made of the wearable devices, charger, and mobile interface. The wearable aesthetic model was 3D printed to represent the final concept and product.
• Finalist for the Hills Young Australian Design Awards, 2015
• Project featured in the Good Design Awards Yearbook and Selection Guide, 2015
• Project exhibited during Vivid Sydney, 2015, within the Good Design Showcase
• Published in The Australian and published online in 13 Australia wide newspapers, design project, Jana: Remote Pregnancy Monitoring, May 2015
• Finalist for the NewStar Design Awards, presented by Ag Ideas and Ideas on Design, 2015