July 17, 2020

Tackling the Challenges of Health Care in Nigeria Using Tech and Design

by:
TECH TOOLS :
Figma: Design, Principle: Interactions, After Effects & Adobe Illustrator, Frontend: React Native, Backend: Node JS, Web application: Pure React

Estimated to have one doctor for every 5000 people, the healthcare system in many Sub-Saharan African nations are understaffed, underfunded, and ill-equipped to meet the needs of their current population, let alone the growing one. 

Historically, the elite, from business to politics, have gotten around it by traveling abroad to Europe for treatment, leaving the multitude to hang in the balance. Many argue that Africa needs to build a conventional, capital intensive healthcare system.

However, similar to skipping the desktop era and going straight to mobile, many African countries will leapfrog the need to develop traditional infrastructures by harnessing technological innovation. Companies will create cheap, easily accessible solutions that won't require an abundance of resources to solve — demonstrated in Tanzania, where Zipline is delivering blood products and medical supplies via drones.

The future of healthcare in Africa is not in capital investment; it's innovation. Through digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D printing, robotics, and nanotechnology, healthcare systems will include everything from remote medical care to on-demand healthcare services.

Expected to launch its digital products Aegle and Yoda in summer 2020, Teamgrace Healthcare is a health and medical services company. On a quest to improve lives and upgrade the health system across Africa through meaningful technological innovation. 

I spoke with Buhari Jemilu, the UX/UI Designer behind Teamgrace Healthcare and it's two digital solutions Aegle and Yoda, about building meaningful products, the challenges of creating a frictionless UX/UI, and Tech in Africa.


Explain what the product is designed to do and what value it provides to the marketplace?

Teamgrace is a healthcare startup that is launching two products this year called Aegle and Yoda.

Aegle:

Aegle is a telemedicine platform where users can schedule an appointment and talk to a doctor using their mobile phones. The platform gives users the option of calling a doctor via voice call, video call, chat, and a home visit. The first product we are launching is the mobile app. However, you will also be able to book an appointment using the Aegle dashboard, your laptop, desktop, iPad, or any internet-enabled device.  

What's unique about Aegle is the AI feature, you can tell the app the symptoms you're feeling, and it will give you solutions to improve your health. The AI feature is not limited to physical health conditions, but also includes a mental assessment part where you can tell the app how you're feeling mentally. 

The platform has a forum, similar to Facebook and Twitter, where you can read other Aegle member's posts and comments. Doctors, like users, are allowed to post and share content. The forum is where the community of Aegle users will meet and discuss health-related topics.  

Yoda:

Yoda is a platform where users can set up medication reminders. When it's time to take your medication or before, the app will send a notification. There will also be pharmacies registered on the platform to allow users to order their medicine and have it delivered to their homes. 

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the design/ development process?

Creating the user story and user journey was the biggest challenge. I did several one-on-one interviews with doctors, health practitioners, and potential customers. While creating the user story and journey, the client kept coming up with new ideas that he wanted to implement. This was my first healthcare design project, so the challenge was getting the right information from the client. 

I'm also the product manager of this project, so I did the UI/UX but also oversaw the development. It was a bit challenging to get the right people to work on the project. I started with two people then I had to replace them with another set of developers. Now we have a front end and back end developer working on the project. 

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Tips for UX Designers on collaborating with developers?

What I always tell my fellow designers is that when you're working at a company, it's not advisable to sit with your fellow designers. It's best that you sit with a developer and vise versa for developers. As a designer, you need to learn from developers what and how to design for them. You don't want to be a designer that is just designing and designing, and along the way, you are giving the developer a headache. It's best you sit with them, make friends with them, and understand how they work. Keeping developers in mind is a critical part of designing. Also, if you can, learning how to code is a plus. I know how to code a bit. I know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This helps when I'm designing because I know what's feasible to develop. 

Your background is in Architecture. How have those skills transferred in UX/UI design? 

I studied Architecture in undergrad and transitioned to UI/UX post-graduation. The skills were transferrable because architecture is a design study as well. While in school, I learned the design thinking process, which applies to UI/UX. Already knowing how to approach design problems when I started UI/UX, made it easy for me to make design decisions. All I had to learn was how to implement my designs. 

What do you believe are the keys to being a successful UX/UI designer in Africa?

The first one is consistency in learning. You have to be current with what is happening in the design industry. Every day I read design articles when I get to the office, and I watch design videos. Some of my favorite channels on YouTube are AJ and Smart, Awwards, and Futur. My favorite place to read design articles is UX planet. By reading and watching videos, you'll be active in the design industry and stay in tune with the latest design trends.

Second, meeting people. For you to be a designer, you need to go out, socialize, and meet other designers. Go to conferences and meet-ups. I recently hosted a two-day design class called UI/UX Design Fundamentals. On the first day, 53 people came out, and the second day, we had over 60 people. By going to events, you will meet and connect with other designers. 

What are your thoughts on tech in Lagos?  

The tech industry in Lagos is great, and it's growing. Tech is the new oil money. A lot of young people are working remotely for American and European companies and making a lot of money. Even companies here in Lagos are moving digital now, so I'd recommend any youth that is jobless or unemployed to pick up some coding or design or any digital skills. 

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