BIOSENSE: Re-desiging the TouchB experience

Anaemia screening device for rural india

TouchB prototype

Project with
Biosense Technologies
Mumbai, IN – 2012

Anaemia has high incidence for women in rural areas in India, specially during pregnancy, and often results in death during labour.

Biosense had created a technology which enables to detect anaemia. The device is low cost and innovative because it can detect low blow Hb levels without pricking the patient’s skin. These two characteristics are key for the target market: India, where resources are scarce and poor sanitation is an obstacle for taking blood samples. To bring the product to market, the company was looking to re-design the device to better fit the user’s needs and align with a complex health care system while maintaining low-cost manufacturing and creating a business opportunity.


Conducting research in rural & urban India

The project began with contextual research in order to understand the Indian health system and the different user groups. We spent several weeks in different rural areas around Mumbai conducting one-to-one interviews with different health care providers like 24h trained nurses (ASHAS) who are the main contact point with patients, medical specialists of private and public clinics and NGO doctors that serve missions in several areas across the country.

There were two big challenges in this stage 1)Communication: some of the nurses who didn’t speak english. Though we had someone from the Biosense team to support with translation, it was important to understand as much as possible from the conversation to avoid interpretations; we printed different sets of illustrations that depicted medical processes, locations, emotions, devices, amongst other relevant images, these were used during the interviews to facilitate the dialogue. 2)Interview audience: the interviews took place in villages, some of which had little or no contact with foreigners before. This meant that people were curious to know what our visit was about and often sessions were conducted with a big audience around us. The challenge was to make sure that the participants were not inhibited nor influenced by those viewing the session, and the strategy was to make a clear space separation between participant and audience, as well as extra focus and contact with the participant it self. 

Besides the one-to-one interviews we facilitated a generative session with a group of doctors in order to create the ideal anaemia device for the indian market, and a Vision session with Biosense to understand their business ambitions. Additionally, we walked the streets of Mumbai to talk to vendors of similar devices to understand the market and how communication around anaemia and blood diseases is most efficient in india, this would later enable us to properly define how the product could be introduced and how healthcare providers could be instructed to communicate with patients to further prevent the illness.

Mapping the patient journey and identifying opportunities

When the research period was finished, it was time to analyse and synthesise findings. We mapped the patient journey and identified potential opportunities for the device. Using empathy maps we further defined target groups amongst the caregivers. Additionally, we defined feature requirements and limitations for the physical device as well as the interface.

The key insights were: 1)There is an immense education gap amongst healthcare staff from 24h trained nurses to specialist doctors, which means the device needs suit a wide range of medical expertise. 2)Patients in rural areas struggle to get to the health centres due to lack of transportation or income, not being able to afford missing one day of work; therefore, ASHA nurses – who focus on rural areas – are a key target user and portability is a priority for the device itself. 3)Anaemia is easily treatable and somehow preventable but often misunderstood by patients; thus, the device must empower nurses and doctors to better explain patients what anaemia is and how to prevent it. 

The patient Journey - Current journey of patients in India who require anaemia screening, showing business opportunities for Biosense

Designing a new TouchB device & experience

The project continued with design focusing on three areas: the device, its interface and the strategy to introduce it in the market. There were several iteration rounds with user tests in between: from evaluating several shapes for the plastic shell to creating the flows for the interface on a simple, low-cost screen or testing the symbols to be used on the buttons. 

As result we designed device that combined a low-cost shell with a graphical interface which can be used by care givers with different education levels. The product is portable and can be transported in a carrying case which also includes an infographic to explain patients what the device is for, what anaemia actually means and how to prevent it in the future.  All of this would enable Biosense to ensure low-cost production, reduce the complexity of the interactions for care givers with basic training and enable patients to further understand the results.



In collaboration with Biosense, F.Ellis, N. Janzsen and A. Warring. Student project at Delft University of Technology. – For the full story you can check out the project blog here.

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