Human-centered design research involves looking to the user to define their needs. What does this mean? Well it means actually speaking with your target group and observing them in their natural environment in order to get a true picture of their day-to-day lives. This should not be a one-off interaction to simply define the problem(s) but must continue throughout the design process and include solution design and co-creation as well as validation and refinement.

As part of its MyHealth initiative, MaRS and Bridgeable worked to engage new mothers in order to understand their needs and desires during the first 2 years of motherhood and explore how health data could support them in their everyday lives. Using a variety of research techniques including participatory sessions and in-home visits, the Bridgeable team found that mothers don’t feel in control of the health and wellness of their child, or in navigating the health system.

Four major factors that mothers indicated as contributing to this lack of control were: convenience, consistency, credibility, and context of information. These themes served as guiding principles throughout this project.

Based on these discovery sessions and conversations, the team found that any solution should:

Provide convenience by:

  • Letting the solution do the work
  • Acknowledging that one size doesn’t fit all
  • Creating a single snapshot of all health information

Provide consistency by:

  • Letting moms decide who can see what
  • Providing tools to interpret what’s hard to understand
  • Communicating flexibility
  • Using simple language and visual aids

Provide credibility by:

  • Acknowledging that moms know their child better than any health care professional
  • Bolstering social connections
  • Providing opportunities for real-time communication via trusted sources

Provide context by:

  • Explaining the purpose, intention, and rationale of information
  • Enabling monitoring and feedback

In the next article in this series we will explore how the team, mothers, health care practitioners and health innovators applied these principles to co-create prototype solutions that address the lack of control that mothers can experience.

Cheryl Li

Cheryl is a communication and interaction designer who is passionate about creating social change and humanizing the complex through practicing human-centered design. See more…

Dan Epstein

Coming from a photography and film-making background, Dan has created a number of documentary projects including Crisis of Distrust (2014) and Defenders (2013). See more…

Elinor Keshet

Elinor is a knowledge translator and strategic designer in the healthcare sector, applying the tools of human-centred design to generate sustainable public sector change. See more…

Stewart Dowdall

Stewart is an urbanist, entrepreneurial thinker and creative problem solver focusing on human-centered design. Stewart has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Waterloo with a specialization in Urban Design. See more…

Shahab Shahnazari

Shahab Shahnazari leads MaRS Data Catalyst’s work in the health space. Managing the MyHealth initiative, Shahab is working with a multi-disciplinary team to create an innovation platform that will give consumers control over their health data and allow them to share it with products and services that can support them in meeting their health and wellness goals. See more…