Author: Bhaskar Bhatt
This paper deals with the application of systems thinking & design principles in healthcare in India. In a unique trans-disciplinary experiment, a team of product design students & professors worked with doctors, healthcare providers & engineers to apply systems thinking to the complex problem of maternal mortality in Indian society. Several new methods & frameworks were developed through the project, resulting in practical development of unique product solutions. In this paper, we attempt to illustrate the process of inquiry, application of systems thinking, development of the systems relationship model & design interventions thereby illustrating the need and efficacy of systems thinking.
Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a pregnant woman during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death, measure per 100,000 live births. This problem is profound in developing nations with lax medical facilities. The Millennium Development Goals 5 adopted by nations across the world seeks to improve maternal health by reducing by 75%, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio from 437 to 109 per 100,000; & achieve by 2015, universal access to reproductive health. Present estimates available from Sample Registration System (SRS) based studies state that the national MMR level has come down from 327 per 100,000 live births in 1999-2001 to 212 per 100,000 live births in 2007-09, registering a decline of 35.2% over a span of eight years.This project demonstrates the efficacy and a strong need for the application of systems thinking in complex socio-economic situations. While domain experts propose solutions, it is often inadequate, in isolation as the complex inter-relationships are ignored. Systems’ thinking promises a highly effective approach that binds multidisciplinary teams to analyse, design and implement solutions from a holistic perspective, which would result in solutions that are truly effective.