Medical Device Development: Designing & Optimizing for Usability

In the medical device development process, it’s critical that product developers prioritize usability. Here’s how MedTech companies can ensure they create effective, useful products.

Prioritizing Usability in the Medical Device Development Process

It has long been understood in the MedTech community that if you want a product to be useful, you should prioritize the patient’s or healthcare provider’s needs throughout the medical device development process. But knowing when to gather this crucial data and how to apply it to the product development plan can be confusing.

Why is it important to design for usability?

Usability studies are an important opportunity for companies to dig into potential misuse of their product – and in the case of medical technology, this is a company’s chance to catch critical safety issues before the product goes to market.  Prioritizing usability in the medical device development process will ultimately lead to a product that is both useful and safe.

Also important is the product’s ability to capture market share. Usability work provides data that can inform a developer whether or not the product is meeting the needs of its user and/or marketplace. Creating solutions that directly address users’ needs will ensure that the product has a lasting impact compared to competitors.

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Here are our best practices for optimizing usability for medical device development:

Defining a product’s user and use environment

Medical Device Regulation ChecklistUser definition and product requirements are key components of the product development plan.

Here are some key questions that MedTech companies should ask in Phase Zero of the product development process to help clearly define the user and the product’s use environment:

  • Who will our product’s users be?
  • What do our product’s users need?
  • What high-level tasks do we expect users to be able to do?
  • Where will this product be used?
  • What other devices or systems are used in the same environment as this product? Do these products need to interact with each other in any way?
  • If a general patient is the product’s target user, what role will healthcare providers play with the product? Will healthcare providers need to know how to train the patient to use this product?
  • If a healthcare provider is the product’s target user, will the product need to be connected to electronic medical records?

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Exploring the medical device development process

Pill Cutter - Medical device development

Technology plays an ever-increasing role in the healthcare industry. It’s absolutely critical that medical device developers consider how their product fits into the user’s experience of healthcare in order to optimize the system for usability.

For example, say you work for a medical technology company that is developing a patient monitoring system for surgeries. When it comes to the system’s usability, it’s imperative that your product development team considers all of the technology and processes already in place in a traditional operating room.

You might want to explore the various sounds emitted from other instruments, to ensure that your medical device doesn’t blend in with the other noises. You might also think about how the basic dimensions of your monitoring system fit among the other instruments that surround a crowded operating table.

If you don’t consider how your product will be used in its environment, you’ll end up developing your product in a silo. And this can drastically reduce the product’s usability.

Every time your development team adjusts the product’s design, think about how the product’s use case correlates with that particular design feature. It’s all about blending functionality and marketability.

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Create usable, effective medical devices with Goddard

Goddard is a product development company passionate about creating impactful medical devices that prioritize quality and user-centered design. By partnering with our team of skilled product development experts, medical technology companies can:

  • Meet FDA medical device regulations while accelerating time to market
  • Leverage collaborative expertise from experienced industry professionals
  • Design and build without taking on the cost of a full-time staff

From concept to production, our highly-skilled engineers and designers deliver a competitive difference with our on-site partnership model, quality commitment, collaborative expertise, and unique employee development programs.

We would love to hear about what you’re working on.

Tell us about your project and let’s begin a conversation about creating products with technical precision and elegant design.

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