Interview with Anne Stevens, IBM Health Corps in India

Meet Anne Stevens, a user experience and data visualization designer from Toronto, Canada, serving on the IBM Health Corps team in Bihar, India working with CARE India

IMG_6294What is IBM Health Corps bringing to the project with CARE India that’s different from the current-day approach?

I’m an advocate for IBM’s design thinking practices, and I’m hoping to bring that to the IBM team and other stakeholders, such as CARE and the Government of Bihar. We like to think that IBM isn’t a high-tech company, but it’s a design thinking company. That means we always put the end-user front and center, understand their real problems. We don’t create technology just because we can, but because it’s useful for a real end-user. We actually make something better for them.

To do that, it’s important to get out and see end-users in their situation, in their context, and understand what they’re trying to do, not just hypothetically. We need to see the tools they’re using. So field visits have been really critical. We’ve been meeting and interviewing stakeholders at different levels of the supply chain in the health system. We did a design thinking session in order articulate need statements. And this afternoon, we’re going to do a design sketching session. I don’t want to be the only designer in the room.  Everyone on the team is bursting with ideas, so we want to be inclusive in the process.

What do you hope will change because of our engagement?

Our short-term goal is to demonstrate the value of integrating data and providing more useful, interactive, valuable visualizations that can help people make decisions.  I’m hoping that what we do sticks; we’re only here for a short time. And long-term – we want this to go toward better health delivery to that last mile.

What has been the most striking experience for you so far?

outpatient department india

Going out to visit the district hospital and primary health center was pretty striking. We saw the sheer volume of patients they process – even in the outpatient department, they had more than 1,100 patients in one day. We saw the crowds lining up just to register, and then lining up with their prescription, and crowding around the pharmacy dispensing window in the heat. It was intense. We witnessed a whole range of situations, from what might have been a routine pregnancy check to some really tragic events as well. It really brings it home — what’s at stake here.

What does it mean to you to be part of Health Corps?

I love my job but there can be an element of a day-to-day grind. So it’s good to get out of that for a bit of time. To flex your brain muscles in a different way. To be able to focus and block out the day-to-day noise. It’s refreshing.

And to be with new people, be exposed to different skillsets — it’s a great learning opportunity. For example, seeing my teammates exploring the data…  I sort of do that, but I don’t do it the way they do it. I want to understand that more.

India’s a country I love. I’ve been here before, part of my childhood was here. So it means a lot to come back.

Registration at district hospital - India

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