The xCLINIC Project


WHAT IS IT

The concept of an environmental health clinic (xCLINIC) was created and implemented by Natalie Jeremijenko of New York University.

The concept approaches health from an understanding of its dependence on external local environments; rather than on the internal biology and genetic predispositions of an individual. It directs attention to root causes rather than symptoms. The idea is that by building awareness, initiating behavioral change through action, and ameliorating your own local environmental health, you improve the health of humans and improve the local environment around you. The more people who participate, the greater the cascading effects.

HOW IT WORKS

We use a healthcare metaphor. we refer to people with concerns or complaints about environmental health issues as “impatients”. Impatients book an appointment with the xCLINIC. They are interviewed by xCLINIC personnel capturing details of their concerns or complaints. They are then provided with “Prescriptions” or “Referrals”. They may also be enrolled in a “Clinical Trial“.

Prescriptions consist of relevant information resources, activities and investigations designed by xCLINIC and aimed at encouraging active engagement in improving the local environment as related to the impatient’s complaint. This is modeled after the primary care approach in healthcare, where patients own responsibility for filling the prescription and taking their medicine. The primary care team is responsible for follow up.

Referrals introduce the impatient to partner institutions and organizations specialized in specific aspects of the environment or environmental health, where the impatient can participate in programs and activities of these organizations, and where necessary receive specialized support. This is similar to referrals to specialists or secondary/tertiary care facilities in the standard healthcare context.

Clinical Trials Impatients are enrolled in crowd-sourced research projects about environmental health issues and the environment in general. With technological tools like Pachube’s web-based sensor data storage and brokerage system, it is becoming possible (and affordable) to publish geolocated time-series data in real-time and to couple local and remote sensors and actuators. This new type of data informs a different response and action. We are considering research projects in area such as:

  • Distributed urban agriculture
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Animal observations/interactions

and are open to new project proposals.

THE PROJECT

During the Business Innovation Summit of 2009 in Providence, RI, we had discussions about how to make the concept spread much wider. For new ideas to spread rapidly, they need to be visible and easily replicable. The visibility of xCLINIC has been primarily supported by the artistic and intellectual talent of Natalie. Replication was very difficult because the methods and tools were opaque or not fully described. Thus emerged the notion of a project addressing these two issues.

Making it easy to replicate: By designing an ” xCLINIC Starter Kit” enabling people to easily implement xCLINIC in their communities, we make the concept easily replicable.

Making it more visible: By tapping into existing pools of creative talent we increase the number of artistic activities to raise awareness about environmental health issues and improve the visibility of all xCLINIC projects.

The combination of both may initiate a broad movement for citizen engagements and activities around environmental health issues.

In summary, the focus of the project is to spread the concept of xCLINIC in order to create a broad-based movement for citizens engagement around environmental health issues.

PARTICIPATORY DESIGN

True to our passion about co-creation and self-organizing masses, we used the “camp” format for a facilitated collaborative approach to designing the foundations of this project.

Our event was called xCAMP and took place on Thursday February 25, 2010 3:30 to 7:30 pm . The Strategic Innovation Lab (sLAB) graciously hosted our event at OCAD.

The objectives of xCAMP were:

* Present the history and concept of xCLINIC by its founder Natalie Jeremijenko

* Review the experience gained and lessons learned from the initial xCLINIC implementation

* Collaboratively evolve and improve the initial framework proposed for this project

* Discuss strategies for self-sustaining xCLINIC projects

* Collect declarations of interest and scope of commitments for the project

* Self-organize into teams focused on design and implementation of specific project elements:

  1. xCLINIC Starter Kit (SK)
  2. xCLINIC collaborative web platform
  3. Outreach strategy and communications plan
  4. Alliances and common resources

Building on the results of xCamp a team of graduate students of the Strategic Foresight & Innovation Masters program at OCAD University explored various options for sustainable operations of an xClinic as part of their Business Model Innovation course. They will be presenting their findings at a stakeholder meeting at sLab on Wednesday November 19th at 5:30 PM.

To register for updates on this project please email: xclinic@manara.ca

xCLINIC and the xCLINIC logo are used under a Creative Commons license provided by Natalie Jeremijenko.