99% of maternal deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, and over half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Hypertensive disorders, mainly preeclampsia and eclampsia, are the second leading cause for maternal mortality worldwide. WHO reports complications from hypertension account for 9.4 million deaths worldwide every year with the majority in low income countries. According to the WHO, the detection of hypertension in developing countries is often missed largely due to the unavailability of suitable blood pressure measurement devices and inaccurate readings.
The student design team members spent eight weeks in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at a tertiary referral hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), in Kumasi, Ghana. The team observed healthcare providers experiencing some difficulties in following obstetrics patients’ blood pressure management plans due to the high volume of patients in the hospital and the business of the wards. The team identified an opportunity for the development of a blood pressure measurement device to aid the healthcare providers in measuring the patients’ blood pressures according to their management plans. This project is in collaboration with clinical mentors and advisors at University of Michigan Hospital and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. Healthcare providers at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi Ghana and at University of Michigan Health Systems were interviewed and observed in order to obtain concepts, user requirements, and specifications for the design.
The design has subsets of standard features of a blood pressure device but also meets the benchmarked gap, as it attempts to be easier to use and maintainable in the target setting.The current concept solution is an enhanced auscultatory blood pressure measurement device. It utilizes the auscultatory measurement method, includes an LCD display, and is equipped with cross-checking and automatic deflation capability. The cross-checking method incorporates an embedded aneroid pressure gauge, which could be connected by turning a ball valve for comparing the gauge to the pressure reading displayed on the LCD screen. The design features a modified hand pump that manually inflates the blood pressure cuff and buttons that allow for marking of systolic and diastolic values and also automatically deflate the cuff. The constant deflation is at literature recommended 3 mmHg/s; by automatic the deflation, there are less simultaneous actions the provider must perform and while also increasing the accuracy of the deflation rate.A microphone stethoscope with earphones is used to listen to the Korotkoff sounds and a volume control knob can be used to adjust the volume of the microphone. When not in use, the cuff, stethoscope, earphones, and the bulb pump are stored within the device.
GHDI provided me with am amazing opportunity to apply the skills I had been learning in school to a real and complex design opportunity. My team and I were given the freedom to explore design as it relates to healthcare while also receiving the support we needed to thrive. We developed authentic collaborations with healthcare providers, which enhanced our understanding of obstetrics, our design, and our experience in Ghana.
What to Know About The Global Health Design Initiative
GHDI has been working with stakeholders for more than eight years to identify and address global health design challenges. Learn more about our history and core values.Learn More →
Since inception, we have worked on projects in maternal health, family planning, minimally invasive surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and more. Explore our past and current projects.Learn More →