On a second exploration day of our innovation week adventure, we were “deployed in the field”. In our teams we split to look for innovations across the entire value chain of the healthcare system. We consulted professors, nurses, researchers, medical doctors, specialists, and owners of testing laboratories. We visited an array of different sites in the Lausanne healthcare ecosystem: the main Lausanne hospital CHUV, specialty lab Unilabs, biomedical research workplace CLE – Centre Laboratoire d’Epalinges, firefighters and Brain Mind Institute of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).

The mindset we brought with us was to look at existing problems with fresh eyes, not encumbered by any previous improvement attempts. We were looking at physical as well as mental health aspects of the problems. We were anthropologists, polite inquisitors. We listened actively, and collected data points. We conducted interviews, tested hypothesis, and consulted our first ideas.  All our observations were strictly patient-centric: we followed the patient on her journey throughout the facility and examined the post-care challenges that might emerge. During the day, we leveraged and expanded our empathy, treating it as an essence of the value chain.



At the end of the day, we got back to the main base at IMD to convey our testimonies to the team members and brainstorm around the many ideas we had generated. On Monday, my team “Cup-o-Crutch”, gained another valuable member: Oub, a student of luxury design at Ecal with more than seven years of experience. We smoothly integrated Oub into the team yesterday and discussed our main motivation and expectations from the Debiopharm-Inartis challenge. This allowed us to articulate the common goal of our team:

“Employ as much curiosity as possible to look for as concrete patient’s pain points in the healthcare ecosystem as possible. Based on that, design a viable, functional product making a impact on patient’s quality of life.”

This vision lead our steps during the day and helped us in narrowing down the problems in the late evening brainstorming.

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Tomorrow we are going to build on this problem definition when immersing into the solution design. With my team, we already gained first insights into a  life of a patient before the Debipharma-Inartis challenge even started. We went through the first short prototyping experience and developed a Cup-O-Crutch – a cup holder that can be attached to crutches, increasing the self-sufficiency of patients with crutches. This idea evolved when Adriano, one of my team members broke his leg and suddenly became dependant on the help of others in many daily situations.


We learnt how frustrating it becomes when the classmates are running around with cup of morning coffee and Adriano is not to be able to carry his own cup as both his hands are occupied. This idea ultimately gave the name to our team as well as enhanced the team’s confidence to develop further solutions tackling patients’ discomfort. Now we have the opportunity to test our abilities again.

I wish all the teams the best of luck, vast inspiration, creativity, craftsmanship and high levels of energy when developing the prototypes. I wish that at the end of the week we have eighteen prototypes of viable products improving patient’s life.


Featured images: Sébastien Gerbier, Team Cup-O-Crutch

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