The Highly individualized Patient Projects programme is running at the TU Delft university since 2012. It was born when Biomet (company that manufactures medical devices), the Reinier de Graaf hospital of Delft and the design faculty had realized that they had a common goal. The representants of these institutions had met and agreed on creating together the programme that would enable patient centered care.
The role of the university in this joint venture is to generate knowledge and new insights. In fact it spreads assignments between the three master directions of the faculty, and indeed students contribute to a big part of the knowledge with their projects.
The topic is generally healthcare and it is specifically centered on the personalization of the medical care for patients. Several projects focus around the hip replacement or the patient recovery from the knee surgery, for instance, and the students have been coming up with different solutions since the past years.
Furthermore the patient journey has been divided into different perspectives: the patient’s, the staff’s and the business one. From this division the assignments are distributed depending on the level of specialization of the students and depending on the goal of the courses.
Most of the concepts for products and systems developed by the students satisfy Biomet and the hospital’s staff that also take part in the designing process, being careful not to overwhelm the designers. Surgeons open their surgery rooms to students so that they can observe and they are available for interviews and consultations. Additionally students are treated like professional designers, since one of the main principles of the collaboration is that everyone acknowledges that the other parties have a certain competence and they may not interfere with it.
A project that can be mentioned as a reference is BioCoach, which is now quite popular in the faculty environment. The idea started from a DFI student (Design For Interaction master) whose goal was to “improve the patients’ experience by creating an interactive design concept that could contribute to the faster patient recovery and overall satisfaction related to the Biomet brand”.
The product indeed aims to substitute the presence of the physiotherapist by defining and solving the needs of patients in their daily routines.
The project ended up being a wearable device, that contains sensors and actuators and which uses wireless connection to return the sensor data to a host and to receive commands.
Afterwards the projects was furtherly developed by an IPD team (Integrated Product Design master) that studied the functioning, the aesthetics and the user interface and translated it into a working prototype.
Eventually, all the results and concepts that the students produce, belong to Biomet. Indeed all the designers that get to know the projects may not use those information for personal projects or aims. As a matter of fact, Biomet is in charge of choosing whether to put those products in the market or not. Even though the strategic master specialization helps with marketing strategies, the company has the responsibility to translate the outputs from the students, into the real market.
The programme is currently working as a well oiled machine thanks to the mutual respect of the parties. It generates many new insights and knowledge for further research, accumulates this learning so that the researchers of the faculty bring it further.The collaboration is being renewed every academic year and the future steps envisages new research questions and therewith new assignments and problem statements and problem statements, students can work on, in order to enhance the wellbeing of patients.