Prototyping Primary Care

The Primary Care mobile clinic project is on the move. Work began by conducting a battery of basic research exercises to understand the needs of the Philadelphia University Physician Assistants (PAs). We had several combined sessions with the PAs that included actual patient examinations, enabling us to pose more targeted questions about what the staff does and needs.

We quickly found that PAs are incredibly adaptable professionals who can perform their jobs in almost any condition, from literally using a simple log as a clinic in a migrant worker camp to utilizing a fully-equipped physician’s office. One of the most important things we learned was that PAs are taught hands-on diagnostic techniques. This frees them to work in a variety of environments where sophisticated equipment is not available.

Quickly establishing a good relationship with each patient is also a high priority for the Physician Assistants.  A good relationship will keep patients coming back as well as make them more inclined to follow the PA’s healthcare advice. Designing conditions conducive to establishing a positive interaction between patient and caregiver is going to be key.

We’ve identified four major areas of design opportunity within the project: 1) the overall layout of the mobile clinic scenario, 2) the interaction of PAs with their personal equipment, 3) the structure and function of the patient examination table, and 4) the traditional physician’s coat and uniform. While continuing to further our research, we’ve moved into the early prototyping stage. These models will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of our ideas. Observing the PAs using our prototypes in real time provides a wealth of practical data to move the iteration process forward and improve our overall concepts.

John Pickard, who is working on a mobile equipment chest, believes that “PAs should have ready access to a sink and other basic equipment without having to turn their back to the patient. “


About corlettt

I teach industrial design at Philadelphia University.
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