Designing devices for global surgery: evaluation of participatory and frugal design methods
Journal – International Journal of surgery global health
Article type – Journal research article – Clinical research
Publication date – Jan – 2021
Authors – Marriott Webb, Millie BEng ,Bridges Philippa , Aruparayil Noel ,Mishra Anurag ,Bains Lovenish , Hall Richard, Gnanaraj Jesudian ,Culmer Peter
Keywords – Frugal design, Gasless laparoscopy, global surgery, Low-and middle-income countries, Participatory design, Surgical technology
Open access – Yes
Speciality – General surgery, Health policy, Other
World region Global
Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on January 21, 2021 at 7:38 am
Most people living in low- and middle-income countries have no access to surgical care. Equipping under-resourced health care contexts with appropriate surgical equipment is thus critical. “Global” technologies must be designed specifically for these contexts. But while models, approaches and methods have been developed for the design of equipment for global surgery, few studies describe their implementation or evaluate their adequacy for this purpose.
A multidisciplinary team applied participatory and frugal design methods to design a surgical device for gasless laparoscopy. The team employed a formal roadmap, devised to guide the development of global surgical equipment, to structure the design process into phases. Phases 0–1 comprised primary research with surgeons working in low-resource settings and forming collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders. These participated in phases 2–3 through design workshops and video events. To conclude, surgical stakeholders (n=13) evaluated a high-fidelity prototype in a cadaveric study.
The resulting design, “RAIS” (Retractor for Abdominal Insufflation-less Surgery), received positive feedback from rural surgeons keen to embrace and champion innovation as a result of the close collaboration and participatory design methods employed. The roadmap provided a valuable means to structure the design process but this evaluation highlighted the need for further development to detail specific methodology. The project outcomes were used to develop recommendations for innovators designing global surgical equipment.
To inform early phases in the design roadmap, engaging a variety of stakeholders to provide regular input is crucial. Effective communication is vital to elucidate clear functional design requirements and hence reveal opportunities for frugal innovation. Finally, responsible innovation must be embedded within the process of designing devices for global surgery.
A community-wide effort is required to formally evaluate and optimize processes for designing global surgical devices and hence accelerate adoption of frugal surgical technologies in low-resource settings.
OSI Number – 20884