The immersion in the Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 (CCHE) was really eye-opening for me. Coming from a design background with an interest in the medical field from a young age, getting to experience clinical care was such a treat. It allowed me to see firsthand how a hospital works to provide clinical care to its patients. It also allowed me to talk with patients and guardians directly and understand their experience of a vicious disease such as cancer and how they navigate the healthcare system in Egypt.
Design as a discipline taught me how to effectively empathise with the patients and their guardians to be able to collect proper and actionable insights that could be translated into needs, the heart of the Biodesign methodology. I was very pleased to employ this knowledge in a real-life situation and one with that kind of importance.
But what was even more rewarding while sometimes becoming draining, was speaking with the patients’ guardians. Listening to their stories and the difficulties they face was the driving force for our work. One can’t help but feel utter respect for their resilience and strength they continue to show despite the adversity.
Afterward, we moved to the needs screening phase. This phase is when we really started to crunch our on-ground research findings. It’s when we got to apply our critical thinking and collective knowledge as a team to coin our own screening process. We tried to employ both meticulous grading structures with the more organic team discussions and decision rounds to get the best of both worlds and finally reach the top needs that are backed by enough evidence and we are happy with, as a team.
Next, was the concept generation phase, the phase when the fun really begins. It’s when we get to work on the top needs and try to come up with the best solutions. It’s when I get to have the most fun! Definitely the most enjoyable part for me. I get to be playful, focus on using creative methods, mention all kinds of ideas, even the stupid ones. How I see it is this is when you move from the research and giving form to those findings. I get to sketch, use all kinds of design tools while having some childish fun!
Throughout the fellowship, we, as teammates, got to know each other better as individuals on both the professional and personal levels. And as it’s always the case, it had its ups and downs. Having so many discussions, many of them on the heated side was bound to create conflict, but that also shows the great passion that each member has. And once we sat together and talked, we were able to resolve matters and understand each other better, making the communication process better and better moving forward. Having said that, those discussions are among my favorite parts of the process. It’s those discussions that allow us to come up with the best concepts by building on each other’s ideas. Moreover, it’s important to have teammates to rely on in an unstable process such as the innovation process. It’s a road filled with uncertainties and obstacles, hard to go through alone. I’m grateful I found that kind of support in my team.
I must say, I’m utterly grateful for this experience as a whole. I got to follow my passions, learn new things, meet amazing people, and these are invaluable things, really hard to come by.
Team Bioinformatics, CIF 2020