Mayo Nissen

Design, etc

User Research at Hillerød Hospital, Denmark

Investigating the Gynaecology & Maternity Department of Hillerød Hospital from a user centered design perspective posed more questions than answers. We spoke with expectant mothers, partners, and midwives on the delivery ward. Our aim was to twofold: to understand the multi-faceted issues existing within the complex environment of a hospital ward that deals with the extremes of human emotion on a daily basis; and to explore the relationships that evolve between staff, those in the position of 'patient', and those who support them - the complexity of which stem from the necessarily fluid boundary between purely medical and emotionally supportive roles of health practitioners.

Through the use of diverse methods such as observations, interviews, rapidly iterated prototypes, and the running of small design games we gained an understanding of the multiple perspectives of the many people involved in the life of the ward. Despite reportedly high rates of satisfaction with department, we identified areas where we felt people's experience could be improved.

Parents-to-be engage with the health system at various seemingly unconnected points throughout the pregnancy. At all these stages, doctors, nurses, midwives, clinics and hospitals dispense advice, information, and test results, both verbally and in printed form. Such records are often misplaced or not easily found months later when needed - usually urgently. We identified this as an opportunity which could be addressed in a low-cost, high-impact way, radically improving the patient experience without creating an additional drain on limited hospital resources or adding to the already high staff workload.

We created a series of paper elements around a concept which would help to gather all these pieces of paper and information in one place for easy retrieval at a moment's notice, and later, looking back, to serve as a ready-made memoir. These elements were used to prompt discussion between us as designers and the mother of a 4-week old baby around the idea. Based on feedback from this session, we created a higher fidelity prototype which we presented to hospital management and representatives from the department. The idea was enthusiastically received, and the prototype was taken back to the department for further internal discussion about how the idea might be integrated into current practices.


For the duration of this project, I was working in collaboration with Jennifer, Benoit, Natalia, and Li.

This project was carried out as part of a 3 week course in user research and people centred design at CIID, taught by Brian Rink from IDEO's San Francisco studio, Jaochim Halse from DKDS, and CIID's Simona Maschi. For more on the course, see the overview and syllabus on the CIID website.

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