Hyun S Kim
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Rural Pandemic

Role: Concept Designer, Storyboard Artist, Researcher
Project Nature
Research / Ideation / Concept Evaluation
Date: Nov. 2015 - Dec. 2015
Timeline: 4 weeks
Team: Yingri Guan, Kim Le, Adam Riddle

Rural Pandemic 

Mitigating the effects of a pandemic outbreak in a rural community

In this project we explored various problem spaces and concepts in the theme of mitigating pandemics in rural areas. To understand and empathize with the issues we looked to the Ebola outbreak of 2013, and rural town Walla Walla, Washington as case studies. Informed by our subject matter expert, we started with 60 rough solutions and arrived at our 3 most compelling solutions.


Case Study

Philip Green, MD Lead Physician Ebola Response Team Providence St. Mary's Medical Center, Walla Walla, WA

Philip Green, MD
Lead Physician Ebola Response Team
Providence St. Mary's Medical Center, Walla Walla, WA

From Dr Green's experience working in the emergency room and leading an Ebola response unit, he cited several problem areas to explore. 

  1. Maintaining family contact with critically ill patients
  2. HIPAA* regulations and communication logistics
  3. Keeping up with CDC recommendations
  4. Education and dispelling rumors
  5. Training and logistics of trained staff
  6. Tracking the spread of infection
  7. Facilitation of hospital staff communication 
  8. Management of curious citizens at hospitals

Our final 3 solutions addressed issue numbers 1, 2, 7, 8 and an additional issue of patient overflow that often occurs in major outbreaks.

The regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA defines rules of hospital communication to patients to protect patient privacy. 

Walla Walla, Washington

Our reference for a rural town was Walla Walla, Washington, a town of about 30,000 people. During major outbreaks hospital resources are taxed, small or rural towns like Walla Walla are especially susceptible to having resources outstripped. Our design solutions attempt to optimize on the efficiency of hospital operations. 



Individually we created 15 ideas a piece, totaling 60 ideas. We culled and combined these ideas to generate the ideas depicted. The sketches were drawn by our teammate Yingri.

  1. Mobile Clinic
    Rural populations, including Walla Walla, often have limited hospital resources. A fleet of mobile clinics could augment the coverage and resources of the health network. 
  2. Home Test Kit
    Dr. Green informed us that healthy patients would descend on hospitals with concerns about infectious diseases they heard of on the news. This kit could help the curious get answers, and prompt the sick to get treatment.
  3. Hospital Staff Wearable
    When hospitals are working at peak capacity allocating and locating staff becomes difficult. The staff wearable we envisioned can track staff location and has communication capabilities.
  4. Modular Treatment Room
    Similar to the mobile clinic concept, the modular treatment room helps alleviate limited hospital resources. The modular treatment room would connect to existing hospitals and could also serve as a quarantine ward. 

  5. Care Communication System
    Communication breakdowns were spotted repeatedly during our research. We ideated on a HIPAA compliant messaging system that could streamline communications between family members and care givers.
  6. Inventory System
    Due to the ever changing recommendations of the CDC during the Ebola outbreak, hospitals had to be vigilant to keep up with the latest equipment recommendations. Our inventory management system would sync with the CDC website and automatically order necessary supplies when stock is low.



Concept Evaluation

Concept Evaluation Matrix

Concept Evaluation Graph

I created a concept evaluation matrix which compared our ideas by their effectiveness for hospitals and the public. The scatter plot graph shows the strength of each idea and its bias towards hospitals or the public.

Using the matrix and graph we discussed the 6 ideas and culled and combined our concepts into 3 final ideas. 


Final Concepts

Hospital Staff Logistics System

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Modular Clinic

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Care Communication System

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During this course we learned to spend more testing and less time building help uncover a successful design. 

When it comes to selecting a prototyping method, there is a lot of overlap between the methods in terms of what they can achieve. A simple rule for choosing methods is to pick the method that most rapidly develops the design to a testable form.