Stick to reality, not the plan – helping Médecins Sans Frontières make better decisions in the field

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors without Borders if your French accent isn’t quite up to scratch, are a humanitarian non-governmental organisation with over 30,000 people across the globe providing emergency medical aid to those in needs. Focusing on war stricken and developing regions, they’re experts in medical care, logistics, crisis response and management and are on standby 24/7 to respond to an emergency.

As you would imagine this kind of work requires fast thinking and razor-sharp strategy to provide accurate aid to each individual case. However working in the field means that when planning the solution, elements highlighted in the assessment for the crisis are sometimes missed or left out which could have a huge effect.

Working with the MSF Swedish Innovation Unit and Brussels Operational Centre, we made a web app for their logisticians to design pathways. This would enable them to easily and accurately track all requirements for operational and medical needs for projects in the field. Pathways encourages you to think about all eventualities of a project; creating flexibility through contingency plans for the many unexpected events in deployment. It’ll be used to plan things like building emergency maternity wards, facilities to handle disease outbreaks and natural disasters like tsunamis or earthquakes.

It was essential that it worked offline due to the fieldwork, where internet was not always available. Our pathway app helps the MSF team create a well structured plan for every crisis. As they say medical pathways helps them stick to reality, not the plan. The medical pathways web app is being trialled in the field across 7 countries.