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Shock Empathy: Designing an End to Hepatitis C

It’s 3 a.m. and my mobile phone is ringing incessantly—it’s a research subject calling to say that he’s just discovered that his wife has turned to prostitution to pay for her drug habit. Because of this, he won’t be joining us tomorrow morning’s workshop.

Missed appointments, hard to reach subjects, low control environments—these are just a few of the hurdles we encountered throughout the research we conducted in France, Sweden and the UK studying the needs of people with hepatitis C. But with extreme empathy and a newfound level of flexibility, we were able to extract valuable insights on how hep C affects those most in need, and how we might be able to design an end to the disease. The resulting documentary footage was captured over four weeks of qualitative research in the United Kingdom, where we encounter Catherine and Mick, two very different archetypes, both suffering from hepatitis C.

Trust is essential in these environments, even if it can be difficult to establish. Yet where judgement is reserved, candor blossoms. The right question can become an opportunity to contribute, and a camera can become an incentive for those hesitant, yet eager to unload their experiences. Throughout our research we translated many stories from our interview subjects into valuable insights. The result of this work was primarily a set of tools that serve as a comprehensive guide to redesigning the hepatitis C care pathway based on human needs.

Sara Manzini

Sara is a design researcher and service designer at frog, focused on designing complex product-service systems through a deep understanding of human’s needs. She is an active part of frog’s social impact practice, and also has significant experience leading co-creation and training programs. Sara is in her element when discovering new places with her old Yashica and while honing her moves on the dance floor.

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