Breast Cancer is the most fatal cancer for women in the US, and the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer for women in the US. 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Last year there was an estimated 232,340 new cases of Breast Cancer diagnosed and 39,620 women died from Breast Cancer.
At the Design for America (DFA) National Leadership Studio workshop in Chicago, we took on this large scale social issue and came up with a solution to an aspect of it where we could make a difference.
Caregivers usually face emotional and financial problems that vary according to the amount and kind of care the patient needs. We were surprised to learn about the physical problems caregivers develop from the stress and neglect of their own well-being, which can lead to aches, pains, sleeping difficulties and appetite changes. Additionally, caregivers often don’t have the time to exercise or prepare nourishing meals for themselves.
In order to become experts in the problem, we spoke to a variety of individuals – caregivers, as well as, cancer survivors and hospital practitioners to gain insight and better understand the situation. A key insight that we took to heart was that the role of a caregiver is often not just one individual, but rather, fulfilled by family, friends and sometimes an entire community. They serve as the support team for a patient, working together to help in different capacities.
Still concentrating on developing a solution for caregivers and the treatment process, we narrowed our original focus a little to help us launch into brainstorming.
How can we bring together family & friends for breast cancer patients and maintain positive support throughout the treatment process?
Using the challenge statement, we brainstormed ideas individually and collectively as a group. Based on these ideas were voted on which ones were most feasible, the most revolutionary, and the ones that might have the most impact, we converged on a handful of ideas which we wanted to build into prototypes.
The ideas that we constructed into prototypes were:
(1) A redesign of rooms where patients received their chemotherapy so that patients were not alone during the process and could see and interact with friends and family.
(2) “Share Package” – gifts would be pre-selected by both the patient and caregiver and would be delivered to each other when leaving from a session at the hospital. This way, both the patients and caregiver would have something special from the other to show their appreciation for one another.
(3) A wearable device, “Bond”, that would allow friends or family to communicate with patients even when they are not able to be physically present for an appointment. Changing of colors on the wearable band would communicate to patients that their loved one is there with them in spirit and providing support from afar.
After quickly building the mockups, we pitched them back to our primary users. This helped us really understand if the solution actually meet the need that they had previously addressed to us. Based on the feedback, we discovered that improved patient rooms and the “Share Package” were either not feasible or unique enough solutions to really meet the need of caregivers.
The feedback on the “Bond” was extremely positive. We decided to run with it as our main idea and were able to flush out the idea even further further. Below is the pitch of the ‘Bond’ that we created and presented to everyone attending the DFA Leadership Studio:
Design for America
National Leadership Studio
Credit: Jeric Bautista, Zonghe Chua, Akhil Chugh, Meziah Cristobal, Allison Wong
Date: August 7 – 11, 2014