User-centred design

The user – be they patient or clinician – must be heard in the design process. This way, they’re more likely to use new technologies if they’re seen as relevant, engaging, easy to use and supporting behaviour change.

We put together a panel for the 2019 MedTech CoRE day to discuss that approach. They identified some key points as part of the design process.

“User groups are very useful, whether they’re the buyer or the clinician because they have very different forms of feedback” says Jenny Kruger. “We learnt with the design and colour of the device to do it in stages with a diverse range of users.”

Marcus King’s advice is to start early when defining users and then bring in more users as you move through the process. “In working with Māori and dementia, we started with clinicians and a kaumatua. We very quickly found out that whanau – family – are very important. We then ran a second focus group with mokopuna (grandchildren). Why? Older family members go to mokopuna for help with technology.”

Marcus says products can struggle unless there’s clarity on who’s paying, and this can be a significant issue for Māori.

“If you’re a medtech company, get clinical people involved or develop good relationships with them. Fisher & Paykel and Middlemore Hospital are good at this,” says Marcus. “Recruit patients, film everything, use ISO usability frameworks and get help from a US company if you’re going for FDA accreditation.”

Edgar talked about boundaries. “Designers, engineers and clinicians can push the technology, but users can constrain that.”

Marcus believes the first action is to create a team. “The beauty of the MedTech CoRE is the expertise and their ability to identify clinicians. The CoRE is very good at asking the black box question: If I had this item that did this, would you use it?”

The offering, says Edgar, has to show a very clear advantage over what is currently available on the market.

The panel was asked what they should consider to design a good start-up.

For Jenny, as co-founder of a medical device start-up, it’s answering a clinical need. Drawing from a wealth of experience, Garth talked about having a good business plan with good investment returns while Marcus cut to the chase with “Show me the money!” In a more serious vein, Marcus also talked about finding the person with the lived experience to share their insights and test concepts, citing his own six-year history with a stroke patient, and a traumatic brain injury survivor. “These two people make a difference.”

Get the team with the right expertise and work with them, says Edgar.

Jenny talks of “having the vision, leaning on the team, keeping the long-term goal in sight and acting for the greater good.”

Do not under-estimate the impact of design, says Garth. “You can have the best clinical outcome but if the design doesn’t work, you have to start again from scratch.”

Find out more about our panellists:

Edgar Rodriguez-Ramirez
Jenny Kruger
Marcus King
Garth Sutherland




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