Why optimizing the medical device user experience is worthwhile
Advances in medical device development and design are delivering increasingly accurate information, providing general practitioners and specialists with the ability to pass along vital data more readily. Along with pushing forward the possibilities for enhanced care, the rise of new, connected medical products offers chances to improve the experiences of both the professionals who operate this technology and the patients who rely on it for their well-being. Manufacturers can improve how users interact with medical products in a wide variety of ways, from basic functionality to aesthetics, and that investment pays off in the long run.
The key to optimizing the user experience is treating the needs of medical experts and patients as a priority through all phases of creating a new device, including collaboration with doctors and design experts. When the firms devoted to creating innovative products also find the means to make them more comfortable and intuitive to use, they are seizing an opportunity to boost adherence to treatment plans, long-term outcomes and the appeal of the offering on the market. Here are some considerations for manufacturers to keep front-of-mind as they create the next generation of connected medical devices.
1. Keep it simple
"The tools medical professionals use should be as straight-forward as possible."
Healthcare is an endlessly complex endeavor, but the tools medical professionals use should be as straight-forward as possible, reducing their need to adjust options at every use and minimizing the margin for error. To be successful, products must be directed to fulfill clearly defined needs in the medical community and designed to be easy and comfortable to use. When manufacturers take into account how general practitioners, specialists, nurses and surgeons are actually putting their tools into action, eliminating any discomfort or inefficiency with ergonomic design, they can make tremendous strides.
Directing extensive research and development toward user interface design makes a huge difference in the results a medical device produces both in the clinic and on the market. Repeated, carefully documented usability testing is often a laborious process, but it leads to a product that is ready to serve the precise demands of experts and produce great results for patients. Systematic and scrupulous testing may slow down the work of getting a new product through clinical trials and available to doctors, but it can stave off the possibility of huge expenses if a problem is discovered later on, especially a defect that leads to a recall.
2. Improved sharing means better care
Progressing the methods of gathering patient data and putting it to work has the potential to bring about both measurable improvements in healthcare outcomes and better user experiences. Involving wearable devices in clinical practice provides medical experts with fresh insights based on how patients are living their daily lives. To fully realize this goal, however, requires both medical product makers and healthcare systems to work out the best ways to collect accurate information, store those findings securely and send them along to various medical practitioners as necessary.
Initiatives to make wearable devices a routine part of treatment present great advantages for the doctors, nurses and hospital administrators, who can apply relevant data to deliver better care and catch problems before they become life-threatening. In addition, these efforts could present significant advantages for involving patients in their own treatment. Many non-experts have already become accustomed to using products like fitness monitors to check their heart rates and other health metrics on a daily basis. Increased clinical adoption of connected health products could bring enhanced visibility into treatment and prevention efforts, empowering patients and granting them a sense of agency in their own healthcare.
3. Looks matter
Functionality and accuracy are the most important concerns for manufacturers, but that doesn't mean the appearance of medical products is unimportant. Style can have a major influence in the successful adoption of devices by healthcare professionals and patients. Careful attention to the aesthetic aspects of a new device will make it more engaging to use and inspire a stronger first impression, attracting the interest of the people making purchasing decisions.
One way manufacturers and designers are working to make wearable devices more appealing and unobtrusive is by miniaturizing them as much as possible. These efforts lead to challenges when it comes to generating sufficient power to meet the requirements of an advanced medical product, as noted in a report from Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry. Fortunately, a broad selection of possibilities have emerged adapting to different requirements for power output, size and shape.
The functionality, look and feel of a medical product all influence the user's experience and its success in everyday use. By focusing on the practical realities of how people will engage with a new medical product design, manufacturers set themselves up for long-term success. A commitment to attractive design based around a distinctive visual brand language might result in doctors and and administrators developing a subjective preference for the manufacturer's products. Even more importantly, when healthcare professionals and patients find a device to be an easy – or even pleasant – part of treatment and prevention, it can lead to quantifiable gains in patient compliance and results.