Aalto University: Designing future healthcare

In the autumn of 2021 design students of the Emerging Designs master’s course were challenged by a brief set by a collaboration project by The Nordic Council of Ministers and Swedish Region Västerbotten. The students were asked to illustrate how the future of healthcare and social care will look like by 2030 and beyond.

The assignment was part of the Nordic collaboration project “Healthcare and Care through Distance-spanning Solutions”. The project is arranged by The Nordic Welfare Centre and Centre for Rural Medicine – Region Västerbotten, funded by The Nordic Council of Ministers.

‘In the student designed concepts the values of patient empowerment, increased accessibility and transparency are at core supported by distance spanning digital solutions’, says Project Manager Niclas Forsling from the Centre for Rural Medicine, Storuman Sweden.

According to the teacher in charge of the course, Professor Severi Uusitalo, the course projects emphasized experimentation, and the process also succeeded in raising new questions about the complex design task. In the spring, students will have the opportunity to continue their project to a validated solution proposal.

Complex challenges bend into scenarios with the help of design
According to the assignment, students were expected to create visions, not ready-made solutions. IDBM program student Falguni Purohit chose the course precisely because of the assignment and was involved in designing a concept for a mobile MRI service in remote areas.

‘Design in healthcare is a very interesting topic for me and since Nordic healthcare is spoken of in such a superior light, working through their challenges was even more intriguing.’

Due to its complexity and vastness, the assignment was challenging also to student Shreya Shrivastava. Her team designed a concept for a digital tool that aims for better mental health care.

‘I learned how to navigate within a complex system and develop scenarios for the digital healthcare future. The course also introduced us to the co-evolution process where the problem and solution evolve together rather than one preceding the other.’

Student teams produced seven concepts
BUBA is a toolkit for remote pediatric diagnostics. BUBA is a device including a set of instruments designed for remote contact with a doctor. It will allow you to perform basic check-ups on your child without having to visit the doctor’s office. The service is both playful and built in a way so the parent can also learn from the interaction.

AMRI Remote is a mobile diagnostic and preventive MRI system for distant healthcare. This technology, being developed at Aalto University, makes the MRI unit smaller, lighter and mobile. In 2030 the MRI comes home, helping especially the elderly people living in remote locations. The platform functions across the three largest northernmost hospitals in Finland, Sweden and Norway.

EnVa is a preventive healthcare system approach for the elderly living in sparsely populated areas. It combines data collected from a wearable device with mood data collected by a conversational AI. The service approach integrates technology, family, community and healthcare professionals, in order to make the elderly feel socially supported and cared for.

Hopealinja is a synthetic audio intermediator service connecting dementia patients with their relatives and others through a new simulated audio service that also analyzes patient’s cognitive wellbeing. The solution gathers data of the development of the condition in an easy and embedded way and alleviates the symptoms of dementia that evoke stress to the patient and family members.

Mimi is a dementia-oriented social technology, a multi-device platform expanding on the notion of having family, relatives and healthcare into one encompassing ‘safety net’. By frequently generating questions and memory prompts to respond to, the service connects persons with dementia with their family members with little effort. The service is cognitively stimulating as well as measuring the cognitive performance.

MonCom is a communication and data gathering tool for better mental health. It helps the clients manage and share their health data with care providers effortlessly. A wearable device monitors the clients’ well-being by gathering active and passive data. The built-in AI helps the client, therapist, and doctor to navigate this data effortlessly by highlighting only the necessary information.

AMRI Emergency Stroke Unit is an AMRI imaging unit that cooperates with treatment level ambulances, aiming at decreasing the treatment times in stroke cases. The van-sized unit would be used for non-emergency imaging following predetermined routes along small villages and care centres. For emergency cases, the unit would function as an additional touchpoint capable of imaging and treating strokes that is closer to rural patients.

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