Why Does a Surgeon Care About a Stylish Pacemaker?

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At first glance the question, “Why does a surgeon care about a stylish pacemaker?” might seem absurd.  In fact, you could substitute the word pacemaker with any number of products found in a hospital and probably get a similar reaction from most in the medical product development industry.

Now what if I asked, “Why does a surgeon care about a stylish Tesla automobile” or even something as utilitarian as a facial razor, I imagine just about anyone reading this could rattle off five believable answers to that question without ever doubting my sanity.

The only differences between the two questions are the type of product and overall context.  Nothing has changed about the surgeon.  He’s the same person who that morning used his favorite Gillette razor, parked his Tesla in his reserved parking spot and rushed into the hospital for his shift.

The problem is that medical product manufacturers often treat physicians like totally different people once they’ve slipped on their white coats.  Not quite like mild-mannered Clark Kent darting into a phone booth and then transforming himself into Superman, for that analogy is too romantic and inspiring.  What I see is an industry that considers physicians to be more like robots, devoid of human emotion.

It’s important for the medical device industry to understand that people bring their emotions and expectations with them to work.  Those expectations have been shaped by a lifetime of experiences outside of the operating room.

What do you think Doctor Gutierrez expects from the digital touch screen interface on a ventilator after a weekend of using his smartphone, iPad and Tesla?  The same great ease of use and appearance, right?

The consumer product industry has raised the bar and expectations of everyone who works in and around the healthcare system.  Digital health and the migration of care from hospital to home further temper those expectations.

Appearance or visual style are important, powerful attributes of anything we encounter in life: people, buildings, cities, landscapes, sunsets, and yes… even medical products.  We are pre-programmed from birth to appreciate, desire and seek out beauty.  We also subconsciously detect ratios, proportions and balance of form.  Our perceptions are fueled by these illusive traits, and we pass judgment accordingly.

Since perception is reality, a first impression impacts trust or acceptance right off the bat.  Good medical product industrial design draws people in, promotes engagement, and sets expectations of quality.

At the end of the day, doctors are just like you or me.  They appreciate beauty and are attracted to it.  The products they choose to use in their personal life or at work subconsciously speak to them while generating confidence in their value.

What do you want your medical device to tell doctors, surgeons or the industry as a whole?  The decision is yours.

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