Digital fabrication labs and maker spaces have emerged across the globe in recent years to become local community hubs for a wide range of Do It Yourself-activities. In parallel, open source information and tools have triggered grassroots solutions in healthcare. Patients, their families, care givers, health professionals and designers started to create personalised ‘open’ healthcare solutions in a bottom-up way. Instead of waiting for public healthcare services to satisfy their needs a growing number of citizens takes action themselves, regardless of national healthcare policies and regulations.
The careables project is building on these scattered initiatives and proposes an open and inclusive approach to healthcare based on digital fabrication, distributed manufacturing and collaborative making. Within careables we aim to link local communities of citizens with disabilities, their families, and healthcare professionals with makers/designers to establish collaboration between these separate communities to develop open-source interventions and solutions, so called “Careables”.
Careables are driven by a methodological commitment towards co-design of ‘open’ healthcare solutions, involving all relevant stakeholders. Key to co-design is that people become creators, not only users of innovation. In our case, patients, their families, healthcare professionals and designers are involved in the co-design process as experts in their specific environments, together with makers, who are experts in the use of digital tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, etc. At a global scale we offer a platform for sharing open healthcare solutions, including detailed documentation to facilitate the replication and adaptation of careables.
In implementing this innovative approach towards open DIY health and care careables is concerned with legal and ethical aspects and receives guidance from an expert partner in the legal field. We make sure that we adhere to the requested privacy and data protection laws while co-designing and creating a Careable. Concerning IPRs, it is suggested for makers and designer to consider the adoption of Creative Commons licenses, as most appropriate tools to protect their rights while sharing knowledge on Careables. But when it comes to Tort Law and Liability, establishing roles in the DIY environment becomes difficult due to legal uncertainty in the field. Key considerations stress the fragmentation of the legal requirements in the DIY environment, where makers’ and designers’ liability should be evaluated on a case by case basis. To this regard, makers and designers should also verify liability and warranty clauses for Careables to limit, where possible, their liability. Finally, the Medical Device Legislation in its current form, can be rather restricting when it comes to transformative innovations in open health and care.