Corporate Blogs

When is a consumer not a consumer? When they’re a patient.

By Patrick Pordage - Last updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One of the advantages of working for a leading product development company, is that we operate across a range of markets. And this breadth leads to some very interesting observations. Two of the big markets in which we operate are medical technology and consumer products.  And yet the language used by both markets couldn’t be more different despite describing the same thing.  The patient.  The Consumer.  In other words, you and me.

And it’s this language that has traditionally lead to different responses to that individuals needs, whether it’s the way we listen to music or the drug regime we are prescribed.  In turn, of course, this influences they way people design and develop the products we use.

With the advent of patient monitoring solutions, reform of healthcare, and increasing significance of medication adherence, we are starting to see the medical device community looking again at what patients really are ie, people, and the way they want their treatments to fit into their lives, if they are going to correctly use the medical devices they are given.

Human Factors Engineering (HF) is the approach used to incorporate user considerations into medical device design. User Experience (Ux) design, typically called upon for consumer products, is a more holistic approach that supports the overall intended user experience. Our experts in human factors engineering, however, have come up with a term that combines the best of both of those, and are calling it ‘Patient Experience’ or Px design for short.  In principle it encompasses the safety and rigor of the HFE discipline, whilst combining it with the broader lens of a Ux approach.

We believe that the team necessary to execute an effective Px development is highly multi-disciplinary. Human factors engineers, industrial designers and graphic designers, engineers and marketers must share common understanding of the core values of the desired experience and fiercely protect this vision throughout the entire development cycle.

Px encourages pharmaceutical companies to switch from a drug or molecule-driven design perspective to a system or service design perspective. Medical devices can become, through a Px approach, the mere physical embodiments of a broader compliance and outcome-based service. With changes in the healthcare landscape and the dwindling security of patented molecules, ensuring improved health outcomes and maintaining brand loyalty by building a B2C relationship with patients is becoming increasingly critical to the financial success of companies providing the treatment therapies.

If this subject has caught your interest, you’ll find a more comprehensive explanation by Melanie Turieo in her recent article published by European Medical Device Technology magazine.