Community Engagement, Economic Burden, Healthcare Workforce, Innovation, Research

Part II-Prototypes Bring Ideation to Life

~Written by Lauren Spigel, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator (Contact: lauren.spigel@vaxtrac.com; Twitter: @vaxtrac)

Also published on VaxTrac blog


Welcome to the second installment of our blog series on human centered design. In our introductory post we broke down what human centered design means for designers and implementers of international development projects. Our most recent post gave a case example of how we’re building empathy with health workers in Nepal. This post will share a case example of how we’re prototyping different iterations of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) dashboard for our staff in Benin.

Once you have worked with your project partners to determine what you want to design or test, the most effective way to get useful feedback from the people you’re designing for is to prototype what you want to test.

Sam facilitating the feedback session on VaxTrac monitor

Prototyping allows you to get feedback on something concrete rather than abstract. It is the difference between asking someone to describe their perfect cup of coffee versus giving them three different cups of coffee to critique. They will have a better grasp of what you are trying to design, and you will get more specific and useful feedback.

Prototyping also gives you the flexibility to test a variety of unique ideas without spending the resources on a project that might not work the first time.

The Problem
Our team in Benin needed a new, more efficient way to monitor our project. As we trained new health workers to use VaxTrac and added an entirely new health zone to our scope of work, our field team had to process more data than ever before.

Each field supervisor had devised his own method of monitoring how health workers use the tablets, what bugs occur in the software, and how to compare tablet-based reporting to paper-based reporting. Meanwhile, back in DC, our Learn team stayed busy exporting data from CommCare reports and spending a lot of time converting data into a more useful format.

It quickly became clear that we needed a more efficient way of tracking data so that our field-based team could spend less time entering data into spreadsheets and more time responding to health worker needs, prioritizing resources and tracking progress over time.

Prototyping Solutions to Test the Best Ideas
To solve this problem, we have been working with our team to design a monitoring tool that will allow our field supervisors to monitor the project more easily. After a series of feedback sessions interspersed with a variety of paper monitoring tool prototypes, we decided the best solution would be to design a web-based data dashboard that can automatically populate with data from CommCare, such as when a form is submitted, the time it takes to complete a form, when a child is fully immunized, among other pieces of data. We are also working to incorporate additional pieces of data such as, data use, battery level of the tablet and the last time the tablet had an internet connection.

In order to get feedback from our team in Benin, we designed a live prototype of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) dashboard:
 

M&E Dashboard Prototype


Our DC staff brought the prototype to our Benin staff during a trip to Benin a couple weeks ago. We held a focus group and asked our team questions about the types of data they want to monitor on the dashboard, how data should be grouped, how data should be displayed and how they would use the dashboard.

By providing a concrete example of an M&E dashboard, we were able to elicit specific and useful feedback from our team in Benin. The designing of the dashboard is an ongoing project. We will continue to get feedback and iterate on our designs until we come up with a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

Check out the final post in our series about human centered design, where we’ll give examples of how we keep iterating on our projects even after we implement.

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To learn more about incorporating design thinking into your projects, contact Lauren at lauren.spigel@vaxtrac.com or check out IDEO’s resources.