How to design wearable devices that work for users

January 08, 2019 | In Design, Medical Device Development, human factors engineering, usability, Smart Devices, medtech | By Tom KraMer

Wearable-Medical-Device2Medical devices worn outside the clinic must be designed differently than those designed for clinic use.

Here are several factors to consider when planning for a successful wearable or smart device development effort.

When developing new, innovative medical devices, designers and engineers have always had to take into account the needs of physicians, nurses, technicians, hospital and clinic buyers, and the patients. These considerations allowed them to make a device that would be properly used and adopted.

The rise in patient-worn and -operated devices dictates different needs than those of the past. Many are used at home or in public, and device designers must take into account the environmental challenges posed by these settings. They include:

  • Weather, e.g. moisture and temperature;
  • Abuse (asphalt, trees, bleach, shampoo, motor oil);
  • The ambulatory nature of the user in the space.

These challenges pose new and different ways that a user could break or abuse a device that might not be possible in the clinical setting. Finding a way to study the users in their environment is critical for success. Here are some of the several factors to consider when planning for a successful wearable or smart device development effort.


Device adoption

Perhaps the most important thing to consider is device adoption. Without this, you have no sales, and your innovation will not reach those whom you intend to help. Let’s face it, no one will want to continue to use your device if it is difficult to operate in the home or in a public setting. They can just take it off, leave it behind, or turn it off, and no nurse will be there to put it or turn it back on.

The users we are targeting with home healthcare devices need to figure out how to use it themselves. Even if they have a bit of initial training from a caregiver, when they are on their own and have a question or a problem (which they will), they most likely don’t have the medical training that their caregivers do and will have to figure things out for themselves. We must target our device features to be used and understood by this population.

Continue reading the November 2018 Medical Design & Outsourscing article here


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