Sometimes a slow shift looks like it happened overnight. Over time, more and more medical devices have been moving from the doctor’s office to the patient’s home. And, while doctors and nurses were quite satisfied with clinical-looking, functional devices, patients—with their iPhones and other hip gadgets—have started demanding more.
One of the most important trends in medical device development is the crossover from consumer products, says Andy Macey, COO of HLB, a design firm based in Chicago. He says this applies “both in terms of understanding the end-user experience and in understanding and making use of the way consumer product companies think about their products.” Moreover, he notes that this thinking transcends into how you use marketing, how you think of the user experience, and how you design the aesthetics into a medical device so that it’s usable in the home and has a quality that resonates with people.
In this issue of MD&DI, the cover story explores developing devices in a consumer-driven market, looking at what companies are already doing as well as what is still out there to be done. Rich Nazarian, president and CEO of St. Paul, MN–based Minnetronix, says, “This trend places new pressures on device designers and manufacturers. Consumers are more involved in healthcare purchasing decisions than ever before, and many medical products that were once designed for and marketed to medical professionals are being targeted directly at patients.”
Nazarian points out that it can be difficult to anticipate exactly which state-of-the-art technology will provide true user value and product differentiation. Only by weighing the costs against the benefits of using a structured, quality function deployment-type process can one work through the alternatives. To find out more, read on.
Next on the Runway: Consumer-Chic Medical Devices
By Rich Nazarian
Electronic consumer devices offer some lessons that medical device designers should take into consideration.
Improving Diagnostic Devices with a Polymer Laminate
By Leanna Levine
Polymer laminate technology provides new pathways for molecular diagnostic devices.
Explore the Convenient Truths of Gas Plasma
By Demetrius Chrysostomou
Gas plasma technology can improve PTFE's biocompatibility and harness the material's surface chemistry.
Bucking the Trend
By Steve Halasey
The current economic recession could spell more opportunity for medical OEMs.
How a Pistol Almost Became a Medical Device
By James Dickinson
A miniature gun as a medical device? Weaknesses in FDA's systems almost allowed it to happen.