Prepping Pelican for a Day at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

We just came back from an amazing full day of Pelican pulse oximeter research at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, hosted by Design that Matters board member Dr. Steve Ringer. Brigham and Women’s NICU is one of the best in the world, so it’s a great place to observe how to diagnose and treat newborn pneumonia under the best of conditions. If medical devices fail to meet the needs in this resource-rich environment, they will certainly fail when they are transferred abroad where staff don’t have as much training, power fluctuates, and replacement parts are not locally available.

We learn the most when we can see a variety of healthcare providers in the setting where they provide care. Before any meeting, we create a research protocol, including goals for the day and observations to make, questions to ask, and activities we would like to do. We discussed the goals for the visit with Dr. Ringer, as well as rules around interacting with staff, patients, and taking photos. Dr. Ringer then reached out to a variety of people in the NICU and arranged for Respiratory Therapist David Beadles to host us for the day. 

Left: Our research protocol and camera are ready to go. Right: Will Harris pushes our borrowed cart to display prototypes throughout the NICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

We started the day by peppering David with questions, which in turn enabled him to learn what kind of information could be most valuable to design the Pelican pulse oximeter. Using his knowledge of the Brigham NICU culture, David had us don scrubs, he grabbed an empty cart for our prototypes and introduced us to nurses in each bay, paving the way for us to reach out dynamically to all the healthcare providers for the rest of the day! The Brigham and Women’s staff went above and beyond to make us part of the team.

Nurse Briana Donnelly tries out the Pelican student prototype and then draws her desired display.

Before arriving, we generated additional materials like flashcards to compare device features, and prototypes to simulate use. Tangible materials help us spark conversation about latent needs that are hard for people to express. We even had healthcare providers draw their desired device display to better understand how to meet the needs. 

Over the last decade, we have visited the NICU at Brigham and Women’s many times under the supervision of Dr. Ringer. At the end of the day, he remarked “People really enjoy when you come to visit. They find it very stimulating. It’s a rare opportunity for them to express what they want and need in order to provide great newborn care.” 

Click here to learn more about DtM's work with Brigham and Women's Hospital.