medical device usability and cognitive biasMedical device usability is a top concern in medical design. There have been numerous studies that point to poor usability as contributing to medical errors. To design usability into medical devices, designers need to be aware of the many ways users (and they themselves) are influenced by biases in their thinking.

I came across this infographic of cognitive biases at the World Economic Forum website. Use it as a reminder of how bias in thinking patterns can influence the way users perceive and interact with medical devices. Use it also to understand your own biases. They can skew how you are thinking about the design problem at hand, which can lead to errors that can make the device less usable (the Curse of Knowledge bias is at play here: as the designer, you understand intimately how the device works. But the naïve user does not. It’s your responsibility as the designer to translate your intimate knowledge in ways that naïve users can easily understand).

Hopefully, being aware of your own cognitive biases and those of potential users of your medical device will help you devise design features and elements that can counter cognitive biases and make the medical device you are designing more usable.

The “Better Humans” website has another good article on Cognitive Biases.  One insight in particular emphasizes the importance of usability: “We’d rather do the quick, simple thing than the important complicated thing, even if the important complicated thing is ultimately a better use of time and energy.”