Building Empathy for Design Thinking in e-Health: A Zimbabwean Case Study

  • Masiya Alex MarufuEmail author
  • Alta van der Merwe
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 933)


The challenges of healthcare delivery in Africa are well documented. Advances in technology present an opportunity to address some of these challenges in a cost-effective manner. Notwithstanding these advances, many initiatives fail to deliver the desired benefits, with a lack of citizen engagement cited as one of the reasons for this failure. Design thinking is an approach to innovation that places human needs at the centre of design by gaining empathy with those for whom the designs are initiated. This paper reports on the empathy building conducted in trying to understand the needs of mothers seeking post-natal care in a low-income neighbourhood in Zimbabwe. Through interviews, observations, journals, and using service-dominant logic theory to analyse the output, a picture emerges of the lives of the mothers and babies, and their interaction with the healthcare system. Working in teams with mobile application developers and nurses, the mothers participate in a workshop that produces points of view that define problems the teams would like addressed, using technology in a design thinking exercise.

This paper reports on the work of hospital midwives, and chronicles the lives of several mothers in the eight weeks after giving birth. It also sets out four design challenges based on the points of view derived from the design thinking workshops.


Design thinking e-Health Service dominant logic Zimbabwe 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Informatics DepartmentUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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