IOM, designers team up to reimagine healthcare for migrants

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16 September 2016 | 0

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Irish design consultancy Frontend.com this week announced the development of technological solutions which have the potential to transform healthcare to migrants, refugees and other displaced people around the world.

“When we spoke to the IOM, we realised that their challenges boiled down to two things; movement and communication. Currently with the crisis in Europe, migrants are moving from one area to another, making it difficult to provide continuity of care. We needed to open up communication between agencies, migrants and healthcare systems,” said Frank Long, director with Frontend, speaking at the Pixels to Policy event last Tuesday in Dublin’s NDRC.

Frontend and IOM, together with masters design students at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Limerick, Institute of Technology Carlow and the National College of Art and Design, are developing a standardised medication label concept which conveys essential information graphically/visually and therefore avoid language barriers and also aids those with literary challenges.

Another concept being developed is a cloud-based system for migrants and refugees to upload, store and translate medical test results wherever they are during the migration process.

Through this system patients will be able to connect with doctors, volunteering their time from the comfort of their offices, who speak a familiar language and can be accessed remotely. The system can aid, not just online communication, but could also assist face-to-face communication through a one-touch translation feature; facilitating doctor conversations.

“We’ve reimagined the healthcare system from the bottom up, that can work remotely anywhere in the world and bridge the gaps between the various service providers. The system we’ve conceptualised would allow humanitarian health staff conduct tests and provide results to the migrants wherever they may be after they have left the camp,” said Long.

“Utilising location information drawn from the phone we can provide details on nearby health clinics and supports which could benefit migrants in an emergency situation. This location information could also be anonymized and returned to IOM to help them manage logistics and provide more focused care.”

Dr Teresa Zakaria, IOM migration health emergency operations coordinator, added: “The current refugee and migration crisis in Europe poses a real challenge in terms of accessible healthcare and our task, along with our partners such as Frontend, is to come up with good solutions. In this instance, good design and effective use of technology can help with the problems these people are facing.

“Everyone in the world has a human right to access healthcare, and as a global society we’ve built frameworks to ensure we look after one another, but frameworks sometimes break down especially in times of crisis and this challenges us to catch those falling through the net.”

An interview with event organiser John Buckley of Frontend.com can be on the current edition of TechRadio.

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