Human-centered design research involves looking to the user to define their needs. What does this mean? Well it means actually speaking with your target group and observing them in their natural environment in order to get a true picture of their day-to-day lives. This should not be a one-off interaction to simply define the problem(s) but must continue throughout the design process and include solution design and co-creation as well as validation and refinement.

As part of its MyHealth initiative, MaRS and Bridgeable worked to engage new mothers in order to understand their needs and desires during the first 2 years of motherhood and explore how health data could support them in their everyday lives. Using a variety of research techniques including participatory sessions and in-home visits, the Bridgeable team found that mothers don’t feel in control of the health and wellness of their child, or in navigating the health system.

Four major factors that mothers indicated as contributing to this lack of control were: convenience, consistency, credibility, and context of information. These themes served as guiding principles throughout this project.

Based on these discovery sessions and conversations, the team found that any solution should:

Provide convenience by:

  • Letting the solution do the work
  • Acknowledging that one size doesn’t fit all
  • Creating a single snapshot of all health information

Provide consistency by:

  • Letting moms decide who can see what
  • Providing tools to interpret what’s hard to understand
  • Communicating flexibility
  • Using simple language and visual aids

Provide credibility by:

  • Acknowledging that moms know their child better than any health care professional
  • Bolstering social connections
  • Providing opportunities for real-time communication via trusted sources

Provide context by:

  • Explaining the purpose, intention, and rationale of information
  • Enabling monitoring and feedback

In the next article in this series we will explore how the team, mothers, health care practitioners and health innovators applied these principles to co-create prototype solutions that address the lack of control that mothers can experience.