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Diabetes: Service Design

Introduction: Healthcare is a prominent sector where design intervention can make tremendous impact in the way people live and receive treatment. India has one of the largest number of Type-2 diabetic patients in the world with a current standing of 31.7 million+ and set to reach 79.4 million by 2030 (Wild, 2004). Government healthcare structure covers villages as well as metro cities, whereas private healthcare structure is limited to towns and cities. Bottom of the pyramid population covers people who live in the city suburbs, small towns and villages. They usually don’t have a fixed source of income, face difficulty in procuring basic facilities, have low awareness, can afford only the government healthcare facilities and are often disadvantaged section of the society. No major funding or reforms have been taken up for diabetes. No blood sugar test happens at a PHC or a CHC; only Government hospitals do blood sugar tests. No medication (insulin or tablets) related to diabetes is available at a PHC (which otherwise gives free medication for Tuberculosis, Malaria, maternal healthcare and common illness). There are almost no awareness programs for diabetes by the government in the rural sectors.

Premise: Type-2 diabetes is a huge system condition that involves lifestyle, insulin therapy, oral medication, dietary restrictions and exercise regimen. The underlying socio-economic environment plays a major role in the way patients behave. The research concentrates around understanding the underlying socio-economic and cultural scenario and arriving at service, communication and product solutions that can bridge this gap for diabetes treatment for the bottom of the pyramid population.

Outcome: Concepts and prototype development was concentrated around creating awareness and communicating a clear concept model of diabetes and its treatment to the bottom of pyramid population as a majorly pre-emptive measure. Also, service chains were identified across the rural scenario (PHC, Healthcare worker, Doctor, Pharmacist, Patient, Family) and interventions were made using communication tools and low-high-tech products. Pilot testing was carried out in Karakhadi Village, Gujarat for these concepts and prototypes.

Published and presented at DRS Bangkok 2012