ConnectforHealth - HCP Mental Health - COVID19
COVID19 Hackathons - 2 weekends
Supporting the Mental Health of Healthcare Professionals During COVID-19
This world pandemic has revealed how important it is for communities to work together and support each other. Countless heartwarming stories are shared of volunteer efforts, generous communal donations, and people looking out for each other in general. This sense of unity has helped spread positivity and relieve fear. While social media has helped to pass these stories along, they are primarily for the general public. Medical professionals do not have a safe, default platform where they can share these stories of success and positivity. Hospitals have already begun sharing stories amongst themselves about good COVID results to decrease stress. We wish to expand and share this positivity to the larger medical community.
ConnectforHealth is a worldwide peer to peer network to connect those working in the healthcare profession. Here we hope to create a space where messages and discussions can be formed and shared to create a positive outlet and a sense of community amongst healthcare workers. Content ranges from super light-hearted topics, sharing memes to, more deep and serious ones such as personal narratives of how COVID-19 has shifted family relationships and personal strategies to de-stress. The content will be built upon real stories by real medical professionals.
As designers and creatives, we wish to use our skills to support healthcare professionals(HCP), patients, and all others affected by this pandemic in the ways that we could. With our various backgrounds, we approached this challenge space with a focus on how we could best support the mental health of healthcare professionals.
To accomplish this, we registered for two COVID19 related hackathons to explore the obstacles that HCP are facing as well as ways that we could provide relief. We utilized human-centered design in order to make sure our solution not only met the needs of the users but also did not add to their already busy workload.
First iteration: John Hopkins COVID19 Design Challenge
This project began as part of the four day Johns Hopkins COVID-19 design challenge in mid-April. The team recognized the toll Covid-19 has been taking on the mental health of healthcare professionals, especially those on the frontlines treating patients.
Research has shown that disasters similar to this such as SARS influence healthcare workers’ mental health differently than day-to-day stresses in the hospital setting. In this study, optimism was shown to improve the level of functioning, pressure on staff, staff avoidance strategies, and trust. Furthermore, when exposed to a more optimistic environment, healthcare staff have reported being able to focus more on practical problem solutions, therefore being more successful at their jobs. As a result, we decided to focus on increasing optimism in healthcare workers.
From these insights, we developed a persona, Nina, a nurse in the ICU. Like most healthcare professionals, she wishes to do her best to take care of her patients but is finding the current circumstances to be overwhelming. Despite helping so many patients, she feels distanced from her community. She’s seen a few uplifting stories and local campaigns on social media but is overwhelmed by all of the information.
After doing some research, we were surprised to find many existing programs and organizations for donations, fundraising, and supply chains. There’s a gap in getting this information quickly and efficiently to healthcare workers. We realized that right now must prioritize efficiency over innovation. Rather than trying to make a ‘better’ resource, it’s better to create a robust and localized resource system.
Initial UX map of websiteAfter late-night zoom brainstorming sessions, the team created ConnectForHealth, a worldwide peer to peer network for healthcare professionals. This platform was presented to a panel of judges at Johns Hopkins. ConnectForHealth is a web-based platform with two main functions:
- Resource Hub
Its resource hub allows users to quickly request for equipment or personal services and easily discover existing resources in their area. This allows healthcare workers the opportunity to focus on their jobs without external stress, thereby increasing their mental health.
- Sharing Successes
A second major insight we found during our initial research was that there is no major centralized network for HCPs to use for communication across hospitals. The second side of this platform acts as a centralized social media network for spreading positive success stories among healthcare workers.
Second iteration: MIT ‘Beat the Pandemic’
At our second hackathon opportunity hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), we decided to further develop the concept we generated in the JHU design challenge. Our main pivot was on building the HCP Network and taking out the resource allocation feature. In one of our feedback sessions with a practicing physician in Florida, one of the insights we received was that in terms of healthcare workers sharing healthcare-related procedures and advice related to patient care (i.e. treatment medications, sanitation techniques, splitting ventilators), the physician said he would be wary of blindly taking the advice that is being put out and would need to do his own research before ever considering implementing anything shared on the platform. He also noted that currently, there is no centralized form of communication across different hospitals, as they are often in competition with one another and more inclined to keep information and resources private. During the pandemic, however, situations have shifted and hospitals have needed to work and sync together more than ever.
From these insights, we decided that instead of being a technical resource, the platform will focus on the social networking aspect of the HCP network. In order to make the platform centralized and focused on one specific topic: bridging the gap between healthcare workers across hospitals, nations, and continents to allow positivity, humor, and storytelling to create an empathic platform that connects like-minded professionals and build a universal community. To be HIPAA compliant, steps needed to be considered such as redacting names in posts or screening content before sharing so that patient information stays anonymous and private. The site will only be open to healthcare professionals, so a vetting identification system will need to be put in place. We pivoted to a focus on mental health through a social network because this is often a topic that is not prioritized amongst the care of HCPs. Especially during outbreaks such as COVID-19 when hospitals and their healthcare workers are extremely overwhelmed, it is important that healthcare workers have an empathetic place of respite.
Explore the ConnectforHealth mockup here.
Looking forward, we want to create a more developed prototype of the HCP desktop site, while also creating responsive web designs to fit different screen sizes and devices. Then, we would gather a software engineering team to build and code a working website. Through each step, we would want to have interviews with end-users (physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, medical students, residents, etc.) to iterate our platform to build features and functions that best meet their needs and to create an interface that is friendly and engaging. ConnectForHealth will also want to create a social media campaign to generate more awareness of mental health amongst healthcare workers.