Working towards a worldwide MakeHealth community

Author
Rutger Oomkes

On Thursday 12 March, Waag hosted another MakeHealth Open Evening. As it turns out, this was one of the last physical events in the Waag until further notice, because shortly after, measurements were taken by the government to control the corona virus. On this evening, we had a small show up with very good input.

In our announcement for the open evening, we asked people to brainstorm with us on how to create a strong, worldwide MakeHealth community. We try to connect maker spaces, Fablabs and hacker spaces, which is why we distributed the following survey for Fablabs and maker spaces who want to be part of this network. Fill out the survey.

A worldwide MakeHealth community is now more relevant than ever. In the uncertain times we live in, and in which we are strongly advised to stay at home and not to go to the doctor or hospital for minor injuries and issues, the call for self help and MakeHealth are stronger than before. A community for informing people on self help and communal initiatives is able to share their insights on specific health related topics.

Careables

We started off the evening by taking a critical look at Careables, the platform for documenting and sharing open source healthcare solutions. The design files can be downloaded for free and new projects can be added to the platform by everyone. Together with our participants we started reviewing the platform and looked at ways to improve Careables. The main feedback that we got, was that the feeling of being part of a community is missing. Small improvements, like being able to ask questions to the initiator of a Careable project, or to be able to join the Careables movement, will support us in creating a strong community.

Creating a strong community

Besides functionalities on the Careables platform, we started brainstorming on ideas to create this strong worldwide MakeHealth community. The key aspects to this are connecting and communicating. We need to facilitate the proces of exchanging stories, and we need to gather knowledge and support members to connect and exchange questions and information. Also, we need to look for communities that already have platforms for interacting with members, like patient organisations, and collaborate with them. These were the main outcomes of the brainstorm.

How to upscale a prototype?

On the Careables platform, a wide variety of open source solutions are available for free. These are one-off prototypes, or they are only produced on a small scale. As we realise that not all people have the capacity to build their personal Careable, we envision that Careables could also be produced by commercial organisations. So, how do we upscale Careables? How do open source solutions become attractive for companies? One of our participants, employed at a med-tech company, shared his insights: 

  1. Leave some room for the company to redesign the product. 
  2. Pitch the prototype that is supported by a patient organisation or a large(r) group of users.
  3. Only reach out to companies that are focused on human-centered solutions rather than companies with tech driven profiles.

For the situation we are currently in, a strong community based online platform is more important than ever. Let's create a community together, where people can share their ideas and insights, where people feel safe to discuss personal challenges, and where a big community of makers is willing to help. Let's include the experts, businessmen, patient foundations, users, makers and everyone that would like to be a part of this caring community. We invite everyone to share their insights, thoughts and ideas to make this happen.

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Over de auteur

  • Rutger Oomkes is een maker van onconventionele sieraden en kunst. Hij is maker bij het Creative Care Lab.