user centered designEase of use is a critical aspect of medical device design. A device that can be operated intuitively is a safer device – chances of use error are significantly reduced. A device that is simple to operate reduces the cognitive load of the user, allowing them to concentrate on the task, not on the device. A device that is well-designed from the user’s perspective will increase the chances that the device gains acceptance in the market and becomes a successful product. A successful outcome is further enhanced when the design team considers the entire user experience. Doing so reveals opportunities to provide moments of delight, making the device not only easy to use but enjoyable to use as well.

An article from Medical Marketing and Media talks about the frustration most of us have in determining how much it will really cost us to engage the health care system. “Is this covered by my insurance? What is my out of pocket expense? What surprises will I encounter?” The author, Paul Woods, rightly points out that healthcare providers make finding this information extremely difficult. He suggests that by employing basic user centered design principles, the healthcare marketplace could be greatly improved.

Although Paul uses a digital product as an example, his basic points are just as pertinent for physical products like medical devices:

  1. Put user needs first. Identify where their pain points are.
  2. Prototype early and often. Make something and test it with users by challenging them to break it. Use the learning to make improvements. Repeat.
  3. Pay attention to the entire user experience. A great product is one that delights.

Keeping these three simple points in mind will help you design dramatically better medical devices.