~ Written by Doug Currie, Director of Systems Engineering, Sunrise Fellow
App developers, web designers, and makers of mobile phones devote considerable time and resources to the user experience (UX) – and with good reason. Ensuring users can easily operate their product and navigate software is crucial in driving high customer satisfaction. In the age of patient-centered healthcare, medical device manufacturers must likewise commit to developing a positive user experience and greater ease of operation. Doing so not only supports patients to make the most of their medical device, but also generates higher adherence rates and better treatment outcomes.
Patients at the Helm
Patients are involved in their healthcare and medical treatments more than ever before. Today’s patient-centered medical environment empowers patients to make decisions with respect to insurance options, access to their medical history records and data, and treatment options that work best for them. Technology helps promote patient-driven healthcare with wearables that individuals can use to track and monitor their wellness, and medical devices that allow at-home administration of medicines that would have otherwise required a trip to the doctor’s office. As it becomes more common for patients to control and operate medical technologies––rather than professional clinicians––human factors and usability engineering is critical. Applying usability design considerations prior to and during development supports FDA’s requirement to show evidence of human factors engineering during the submission process. It is a proven method to improve safety, and reduce risks.
Best Practices For Developing A User-Friendly Design
Medical device developers must ensure that products are easy to use correctly, and are difficult to use incorrectly.
While developing a process that promotes a high level of user-friendliness, manufacturers should:
- Listen – By actively listening to patients’ comments and recommendations about the user experience, medical device manufacturers can glean critical insights as to how the product performs in the hands of actual patients. Feedback may not always be direct, so listening may require reading between the lines to fully comprehend the relationship between the user and the device.
- Characterize – Who are your patients and how is the device behaving in their hands? It’s critical to develop a patient profile and characterize the type of consumer using the product, then engineer the device with them specifically in mind.
- Empathize – Put yourself in the patient’s position. Where are you when using the product? How do you feel when using it (nervous, shaky, exhausted, scared)? By empathizing with the patient, medical device manufacturers can better understand how to create a greater user experience.
When developing medical devices, manufacturers can drive higher adherence rates and better patient outcomes through user-friendly designs. At Sunrise Labs, we transform innovative ideas into commercial medical products by keeping the patient––not their infirmity––at the forefront of our development process.