Human-centered design. We’ve heard these words thrown around quite a bit so far in our fellowship. But what does that actually mean? What does human-centered design actually look like? Knee-deep into prototyping as we near the end of our ideation phase, we’ve found out first-hand what this process entails.
“What was her feedback?” King asks me.
“They [the family] thought it was great. They were especially excited about the ‘health savvy’ portion and they liked the deck on stroke prevention. She [the caregiver] did mention that we could also include some materials on ‘What is stroke?’ because they wanted to better understand what exactly happens when someone has a stroke,” I answer. I’m thrilled to hear such positive feedback from a stroke survivor and his caregiver, one of several families with whom we’ve shared one of our top ideas.
King and I are discussing the prototype of our idea for an education, wellness, and patient empowerment solution for stroke. The process of creating an actual prototype has stemmed from weeks of “feedback conversations” like the one I’m recounting to King. We’ve sought feedback at each step of the design process, modifying each iteration to reflect the comments and suggestions we gathered from users (stroke survivors and their families) and from our design, entrepreneurship, and clinical mentors.
Everything began with an idea—an idea about how we can improve the patient education experience. This need had bubbled up in our conversations with therapists, doctors, and patients during HFA’s exploration phase.
Our first step was to confirm that the need is real. We visited online stroke boards and forums, attended support groups, and got in contact with the stroke survivors we already knew. We found that many were indeed dissatisfied with the current health education experience, which meant we had found a niche.
Our next step was to create a very rudimentary minimum viable product (MVP) model of our idea—one that stroke survivors, caregivers, and traumatic brain injury patients helped co-create with us at the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. And by MVP, I mean that, in the spirit of rapid and creative prototyping, we brought nothing more than printed pictures and lots of imagination…
Our third step was to finally create a tangible prototype—one that was based entirely on the user feedback and responses we had collected in previous weeks. This is the prototype we sent out to several families, with the ultimate goal of checking back in with them to verify that what we created aligned with what patients wanted and needed.
As is often the case in the world of startups, retrospectively creating a narrative of the design process makes it seem linear and straightforward, while it feels far from that in reality. Our story is no exception; it has become apparent to me as I write this. I know that the road ahead will hold as many twists and turns as the path to this moment did, and I’m excited to continue trusting in the process as we evolve and move forward.