Genalyte – Merlin Cloud Based Blood Diagnostic Station

MPE (Formerly Mindflow Design) Helps Genalyte Re-Think Blood Testing

The Business Problem

A San Diego company named Genalyte seeks to disrupt the laboratory testing industry by conducting 15-minute blood tests in doctors’ offices during patient visits. At the same time, the company expects to transition from being a product manufacturer to a service provider.

Genalyte had previously brought to market its Maverick Detection System, an instrument that can run 62 tests with several drops of blood. The company wished to mount the Maverick on a mobile laboratory cart with both elements functioning together as a workstation operated by a clinical lab scientist (CLS). Toward this end, Genalyte had a contract manufacturer develop a functional cart prototype, which it did. Unfortunately, little attention was paid to end user workflow needs. At a certain point, Genalyte decided that the prototype cart didn’t make sense.

With an important investor conference just four months off, Genalyte engaged MPE (Formerly Mindflow Design) to address the workflow issue.

A User Focus Needed

We responded by re-conceptualizing the task at hand. This was not a cart design issue, in our view, but a user experience issue. If we designed a user experience that helped CLSs perform their tasks correctly, we reasoned that the right cart design would be the one that supported the correct user experience.

Also, we figured that designing the correct user experience would materially assist the CLS in fulfilling the company’s brand promise of completing tests in about 15 minutes.

We started by observing a number of CLSs as they performed their tasks. We learned that some tests were performed using refrigeration while others were performed at room temperature, suggesting different handling schemes. We learned that the sequencing of tasks was critically important – tests that took the longest had to be started first. We also learned that workflows had to be defined with 100 percent assurance of avoiding cross-contamination and mixing up tests between different patients.

Nuances included discovering that subtle workflow differences existed between users. Recognizing that behaviors and expectations needed to change, we developed protocols that recognized and addressed these differences. These protocols were not foisted upon CLSs. We held co-creation workshops in which CLSs tested low-fidelity mockups that they themselves had a hand in creating with us.

A Start-Up’s Life or Death Challenge

Dubbing its new cart the Merlin 1.0, Genalyte introduced its new mobile laboratory set-up to include the Maverick Detection System at a critical J.P. Morgan investor conference. Potential additional funding of $93 million was on the line. The meeting was novel in that blood was drawn from investors and tested. Since results were delivered within the time promised, the company passed its test with flying colors.

Soon thereafter, mobile laboratories were installed at the offices of six rheumatologists in the San Diego area, and they are performing admirably. This specialty was chosen because rheumatologists treat patients with autoimmune and chronic diseases requiring frequent repetitive blood monitoring. This is the market Genalyte intends to pursue for at least the time being.

We used our core design and research talents to develop a Maverick-compatible cart, conducted the formative user evaluations and created a visual brand language that connected the company’s previous product, the mobile laboratory service it was trying to create, and the Genalyte brand.

Genalyte Merlin Product Design

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