Involving end-users in the design of medical devices

Medical device
Successful medical device OEMs recognize the importance of an early and extensive partnership with potential end-users, writes Bill Evans in Medical Device Link.

As the potential of the technology that goes into medical products grows, so does the need for product design features that make them accessible to users. The drop in cost of both processing power and high-resolution color screens, for example, means they are finding their way into many areas of healthcare. At the same time, the typical medical device user in the developed world is routinely exposed to sophisticated consumer user interfaces (UIs). Products like TiVo, iPods, cell phones, Apple computers, and Microsoft Windows have raised the bar in terms of consumer expectations. Consumers now have an idea of how easy it can be to interact with a piece of complex technology.

The consumer devices mentioned here have been designed for a broad user base—from ages 8 to 80 is a common goal. But medical products are usually designed with a specific group or groups of users in mind. How can product development teams design UIs that really resonate with their particular customers? A truly great UI allows a user to more effectively exploit all the sophisticated features the design team slaved over to give the product a competitive advantage. An intuitive UI matches a user’s mental model of what they need to do to operate the device with how the device actually works.

Manufacturers can use design research to create better UIs.

A first article addresses how to conduct the early research and create concept UIs. The second one explains the process of taking these concepts back out to users. It also addresses how development teams can lay the foundation to meet FDA requirements for usability and good human factors design and the validation process.

(via Usability in the News)

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