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On Healthcare Startups

3 min

We designed and launched a healthcare device in the middle of a pandemic across hospitals in south India.

Here's a thread giving you a peek into the design process we followed –

There has been a rising need for the disinfection of confined spaces. This, however, has become a harder problem to solve in crowded environments such as lifts which are found to be more contaminated than even toilet surfaces.

Solution: UVfy, a UV-C-enabled handrail that automatically disinfects lifts within 4-5 minutes. We designed with various levels of redundancy to avoid failure in such critical places. Disinfection was made safe and effective even in crowded hospital environments

As you might be aware, UV-C is the most effective for disinfection, but yet shouldn't be exposed to humans for longer periods to health risks. So we designed, for the worst-case scenario, a control system that tracks the frequency of usage for a reliable operation.

The conventional design process couldn't adjust to the complexity of our situation. The need for reducing infections was also changing in relation to the pandemic waves) We followed a double helix instead of a double diamond. Iterated in multiple knowledge loops.

Of course, hospitals are not the only segment having elevators, right? Gaining insights from 120+ stakeholders, we tested our product through pilots in hotels, universities, and hospitals. These paid pilots acted as 'proof-of-work', helping us validate and land our first client :)

After narrowing our focus to hospitals, we started realizing the complexities in the healthcare space. The solutions had to be more systemic. You not only had to design for the patient but also consider the doctors, management staff, infection control nurses etc.

Business (viability), Design (desirability) as well as Engineering (feasibility) had to go hand in hand for us to make crucial decisions for the company. Along these lines, pricing strategy, revenue models, target segmentation etc, came in handy to balance tech with business.

We iterated multiple times on our pitch, market, customers, product features etc. This was made possible through a system to integrate the feedback and translate them into actionable steps for the company.

Our value proposition for our customers was through REDUCED patient stay and REDUCED staff absenteeism through REDUCED infections. This was communicated consistently through websites, brochures, lab test reports etc. Everything had to speak the same language.

Designing for manufacturability, we had to make it easier for the service engineers to install our product in hospitals. So we got back to the drawing room and made an IKEA-style installation manual to make it easier for third parties (distributors, service engineers etc)

If we have to go with the numbers, we have so far been able to reduce the risk of acquiring infections for more than 100+ healthcare workers as well as 3000+ patients every day (and counting). There have been a lot of struggles, up and down, but this vision has kept us afloat!


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