With great teamwork comes great responsibility!

When our group constellation, Team InnoPatient, was announced, we all had a lot of questions and wondered why the BioMedical Design program had placed us together, but it turned out that they had seen something in our group dynamic that we hadn’t. Since all three of us had been used to working independently in previous work, we naturally spent some time finding each other and learning how we could make the best use of each others’ resources.  

Our group process has really been characterized by giving each other space, and listening to each other. This led us to have a group dynamic where we worked together on every task for a long time. We kind of had a fear of missing out on some of the learnings. We finally addressed this at one of our monthly ambition meetings and decided that we should try to assign areas of responsibility. Even though we all strongly agreed this was the best strategy, it was kind of hard for us to adapt, however in the end we did manage to assign areas of responsibility.  

Team InnoPatient in the middle of a creative skill workshop – building on each others’ ideas.  

It has definitely been a great experience to have an interdisciplinary team. We really do bring something different to the table and it has been interesting to have talks within the team where we have been able to see the subject from each others’ point of views. We would definitely recommend all teams to prioritize interdisciplinary aspect when working in groups.   

Go on a road trip you want – get out of the building you must

One of the key learnings from the BioMedical Design program is definitely how much you gain from getting out of the building and talking to people.  

We of course visited the hospital many times, since they are our key stakeholders, but as the project matured, we found out that we needed more knowledge on how to work with sound, which was a big part of creating our proof of concept. In a post on LinkedIn we got in contact with SoundHub and suddenly found ourselves on our way to Struer. At SoundHub they were really helpful, they spent most of the day together with us, gave us great input about sound, dB, testing and some do’s and don’ts for our prototype.  Even after our visit they were also helpful with advice if we got stuck.  

A key takeaway for us has been that in general most of the times when we reached out to people, they were more than happy to help or guide us in a direction.  

The process of working on a solution 

Exploring the solution was a long and iterative process with a lot of ideation sessions with different external actors and stakeholders. We started the process with both physical and online ideation sessions, where we invited relevant professionals from the group’s network for “quick and dirty” ideation sessions. From the sessions, we brought the best ideas out to healthcare professionals at Aalborg Hospital to get feedback on what they thought would best fit into their practice. From this, one final idea for a solution was selected to work further on.  

In the group, we worked internally on prototypes with experiments on how the solution should both look-like and work-like. In this phase, we had a lot of hands-on experience with sewing, molding our own test materials, 3D modeling, and sound testing with different materials. In an iterative process, we received feedback from health professionals and sound experts on the further development of the look, shape, and function of the solution.  

One of the things that our group, in particular, learned was that when you get that occasional concern from stakeholders or bad comments, it doesn’t mean that everything is lost or you didn’t do well. It just means that you need to correct your direction and take their concerns into your design of the solution.  

Ups and downs

We encountered a lack of willingness to pay for our solution, even though it was a well documented problem that needed a solution. The lack of willingness to pay zapped some of the group’s spirit and we uncovered some of the other needs we had observed, but decided to return to the neonatal need and soldiered on as we believed, we were in the right to fight for the silent patient’s sleep and well-being.  

What is our current situation?

We have currently given the knowledge and rights to the BioMedical Design program, who will hopefully be able to find others who want to complete the project. 

Team Vital DeSign

Interdisciplinary group

Our group is very interdisciplinary, as we have quite different backgrounds. Kristine is an industrial Designer with experience as a start-up manager, Maria is a PhD with experience from the medical device industry and Zohaib is a US doctor, who also has a degree in public health and has experience with clinical outcome research. Furthermore, we are very different in our working process, probably because our professional and personal backgrounds are so different. These differences have led to several conversations regarding advantages and challenges in this regard. E.g., we found that deadlines for Maria is a must, while maybe a more fluent thing for Zohaib and Kristine. We found that Kristine needs silence to think and deep dive, while Maria and Zohaib needs to think out loud (maybe a bit too much sometimes). We found that Zohaib works best when having the freedom to plan his own hours, while Maria and Kristine are stricter on the separation of work/life balance. However, despite our differences, we all respected each other enough to view these differences as learning opportunities, and therefore we were always able to solve issues quite easily.  

Looking through ‘old ideas’ and cleaning up the office by the end of the year.

Example of different working process 

An example of these differences was the process of preparing our two project pitches. In our first pitch we got started a bit too late (according to Maria) and ended up working until 4 am the night before (over zoom and not having time to practice) the pitch. Second time we tried turning the process around and prepared our slide in good time (maybe TOO good time for Zohaib) and spend the last 2 days practicing. In both cases we ended up with a good result, and Kristine learnt a lot about how both ways have benefits, while Maria and Zohaib had to admit that there are different ways reaching a goal.   

Working with needs and solutions

In our group we have worked with 3 different needs, and many different solutions for each need. We are probably the group with the most pivots and we have cast aside a solution to pursue one of our other ideas more than 3 times. This has been highly challenging and very fruitful for our learning process. We have been highly aware not to fall in love with a solution until we validated with the users and completed thorough desk-top research and tried our best to be aware of what we saw and heard in the clinic. Therefore, we also continued to visit the clinic until the very last month of the program and kept finding new experts and new knowledge to ad to our solution space. Doing a pivot and discharging an idea or solution can be frightening when you are in a time limited program like the BMD, however, to control this process Pernille (our team mentor) taught us to park our ideas, instead of killing them. A trick we are very thankful for as our final solution spent 2 months in the parking zone until we realised the twist that was needed to develop it into the product we have today.  

Ups and downs 

At the BMD there are an endless row of ups and downs, and our group was not spared from any of these. The ups were exiting and we had many laughs and jokes in the days where the project and program was going well. The downs are not fun, however, because we have so different personalities, we never really experienced a time were all of us where down at the same time. We always had one person in the group that kept up the spirit by making jokes, getting coffee, sending weird videos or encouraging text-messages, getting us through the challenges. And if nothing else worked we could always have a glass of wine and do an ideation session, laugh out loud and end up with an amazing crazy new idea.

Testing ideas and methods.
Doing research at the paediatrics department at Aalborg University Hospital

Status of the CareFold project

The status of our project is that we have decide to continue working on our product. Kristine will be working full time doing product development after the summer holiday and Maria and Zohaib will support the project while working their regular jobs. Going further, we agreed to lean in and trust each other.  

Upgrading our professional backgrounds…

Align and learn together 

Our team consisted of Søren who is a medical doctor with experience in different specialities and Tine who is a researcher with a background in biomedical engineering. As the programme is intense and you have to work closely in the teams, we put a lot of effort in aligning and understanding each other’s expectations from the beginning. It has been interesting to work closely with one person where you need to compromise and find common interests for the project to be equally motivated. As a team you learn both individually and together and are pushed to explore barriers and corners outside your comfort zones.   

Speaking a common language

Even though we have two different backgrounds in our team, we quickly realized that our “language” was quite similar due to Tine’s interest and working experience in the clinical environment and Søren’s interest in the technical elements of hospital equipment. As we were not so different in our knowledge and working habits, the teamwork seemed to develop relatively effortlessly. In a team of two persons the interdisciplinarity is limited and thus, we took the opportunity to seek interdisciplinary inputs to a larger extent among our co-fellows and through the massive BMD-network.  

Identifying needs

We have been in the clinic to do observations and to find needs. This was an individual process where all fellows brought their observations into the team. This included both different observations and overlapping observations, which led to clarifying discussions in the team. The team process of narrowing down all the identified needs was dependent on many elements including interests, competences and ambition levels.  

Prepared to go into the clinical immersion to do observation and identify needs which you can bring into the team phase.  

Creative, crazy and cool ideas  

It has been an eye-opener to go through the creative and iterative process of ideation-, prototesting- and co-creation sessions realizing how far you can develop and build on ideas with relatively fast and cheap methods. It has been a fun process allowing for crazy and unrealistic ideas to be used as inspiration to come up with cool ideas.  

In our team we spend a lot of time understanding the problems we worked with. We researched the literature to get a deeper understanding about the physiology and the root causes of the problems and procedures related to the unmet needs. It was valuable to get a lot of questions and sparring with our co-fellows.  

Scenario training presenting the clinical situation with a new solution for co-fellows. You need to understand the workflow for the clinicians and the patients and the root causes of the problem.  

Iterating for a suited solution 

Fun days with introduction to arduinos as a tool for building prototypes with functionalities.  

The process of finding a solution has both been fun and frustrating and you learn to make decisions based on limited information within certain time frames. We were introduced to different types of prototyping to be able to build more tangible low cost mock-ups of our solutions using e.g. 3D printing, electronics and digital prototypes.  

Before narrowing down to focus on a few solutions we went back to the clinic to talk to stakeholders to get more knowledge about their requirements for a solution. In that process it was amazing to experience how willing people are to share their knowledge and the eagerness to help us further in the process. Also, when you meet people who are more critical to your ideas, it provides a lot of valuable insight when you remember to ask why they think your solution wouldn’t work. You also have to be prepared to get a lot of different answers and inputs to your questions. All contributing to enhance your knowledge about the problem and the solution.  

We work with a high risk/high reward project and it is always interesting to talk to different people even with the same professional background as they identify the risks associated with the project differently. The unmet need we try to address has been difficult to attack until we tried flipping it and asked what THIS solution could do compared to state of the art.  

There have been ups and downs during the project. The learning curve has been steep and it has been challenging to make the right strategies. Right now we work on de-risking specific areas of the project and we attempt to acquire funding to proceed. We feel obligated to try to find out if our solution can be a candidate solution to this important unsolved problem.