“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” – Dr Emmett Brown to Marty McFly (Dir. Zemeckis, Back to the Future film, 1985)

Okay, so maybe we need roads to get our ideas somewhere.

We’ve returned to our space to further establish where our MediScan concept is going and how it is going to get there. This post is going to delve into our refine problem space, and our future scenario for how we see 2030.

Problem Space

Our problem space has also evolved. Our research has taken us deeper into wanting to understand the root of the delay in the diagnosis of chronic reproductive illnesses in women. We want to delve as deep as we can, and are preparing to being primary research efforts in the coming week (or even days) to better understand not only the side of those afflicted with endometriosis but also the medical professionals who are involved in the diagnosis and management of the illness. We’re aiming to use this further research to continue to define the opportunity area that will address this project fully.

We refined our problem space to look more specifically at endometriosis, a chronic illness where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. More than 11% of Australian women and those with a uterus suffer from endometriosis, impacting day-to-day life due to debilitating symptoms of pain, heavy menstruation, and internal growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus possibly affecting other organs in the body. Management of the condition looks at providing painkillers and birth control options.

The diagnosis of endometriosis is delayed for an average of 6-8 years due to accessibility of non-biased medical care, stigma in attending medical appointments and discussing reproductive health, and a limit to the technology available to assist in diagnostics. Current diagnostic tools include pathology samples as well as scans such as MRIs and ultrasounds (both abdominal and transvaginal), which are often inaccurate, to diagnose endometriosis, leaving the only reliable diagnostic tool being an invasive surgery called a laparoscopy (a key-hole surgery to see into or operate on the abdomen and pelvic area).

Future Scenario

To better understand when we’re designing for, we established a premise of what our 2030 would look like. We studied trends in related fields, including health and medicine, as well as technology.

Some of the main areas we envision our 2030 could look like include;

    • There will be a higher focus on responsible resource consumption.
    • New building codes use solar passive design techniques and incorporate living plants.
    • Two large-scale pandemics in 10 years have prompted many people to work remotely and move out of the city centres to reconnect with the natural environment.
    • Public parks and car parks are used for growing food and urban farming spaces.
    • Farms in regional and rural areas are still utilised. Still, their produce isn’t travelling as far, thanks to a majority Greens government’s reintroduction of the Carbon Tax in the 2028 election.
    • AI is used to track carbon emissions and use. However, there is still some disturbance in the community around ethical concerns, which may be escalated to a Royal Commission enquiry.
    • Infrastructure in rural and regional areas, like internet, public transport, and general health care, has mostly caught up to the major cities thanks to a “green jobs grant” from the Federal Government. However, these areas are still pushing for more specialised healthcare (for example, paediatrics, oncology, orthopedics, and specialised allied health), and photography.
    • The concept of Health at Home is being explored in other countries and catching on in Australia. The specialised heatlhcare services has been supported by the move to remote work and the introduction of AI in the cases of remote healthcare access. People also have access to self management apps on smart phones and watches, which are able to collect and analyse more data than ever before, assisting with telehealth appointments and healthcare access across the nation. Rural communities are quickly adopting this technology as a way to effectively resolve the healthcare crisis that they have been dealing with for decades. 

Our 2030 is promising to be an interesting established future, however, other trends are arising that are also important to note when we look at our problem space. One of our key emerging trends look at the increased reluctance in people making and attending doctors appointments, leading to a delay in diagnosis in general health. This is prominent in young adults, and contributes to the delay in diagnosis for many conditions, including endometriosis.
Our current research is looking at the motivation behind delaying or avoiding doctors appointments. We’ve established the following insights so far:

  • Some illnesses or conditions have embarrassing or stigmatic emotions attached to them.
  • This embarrassment/stigma is especially common regarding reproductive health and areas of the body that involve reproductive organs.
  • That the physical contributing factors (i.e. getting a health check, undressing for a physical exam etc.) are as important as verbal contributions (i.e. explaining symptoms, understanding how to communicate symptoms etc.)
  • That there is an underlying trust between patient and doctor, which is not always established, leading to an avoidance in making and attending an appointment or even not feeling like you are being believed by your medical practitioner.

The 2030 future that we envision for our solution is looking forwards at the establishment of a national healthcare system that is not hindered by geographical barriers, where health education is encouraged to build awareness of not only general health, but reproductive and gynaecological health also, and where the relationship between patients and doctors are nurtured for a better long-term connection.

Team Snapshot

Returning from break has left us refreshed and ready to tackle the CBI A3 project with renewed motivation. We’re also getting the opportunity to reconnect with some of the other CBI A3 teams soon!

Other highlights:
  • Kieran is looking forward to getting on with the designing part of the project more.

Next Steps

  • Await research ethics approval
  • Revise our research methods, including questions for our surveys and interviews (in preparation for starting primary research)
  • Technology research (looking further into our potential technologies)
  • Design development