Getting user feedback early and often in the design process is all-important when developing medical products. One need look no further than recent research illustrating that a preponderance of asthma patients use their inhaler incorrectly.
It’s not just inhalers—errors using other medical devices are widespread.
Dr. Amy Schwartz is an industry thought leader and Yale-educated cognitive psychologist who recently joined Battelle’s Human Centric Design (HCD) team as research leader, where understanding user needs and real-life context of use is core to Battelle’s decades-long approach to HCD philosophy.
“It’s not just about avoiding errors—it’s beyond usability,” said Schwartz.
“We must incorporate emotional, social and cultural factors to create great design. Why can’t medical devices include small moments of delight like consumer products do?”
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Schwartz has more than 30 years of experience at such organizations as design innovation firms IDEO, MATTER (the Chicago-based healthcare incubator), and as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University’s Segal Design Institute.
During her tenure at IDEO, Schwartz’s teams won four Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA), considered the “Oscars” of the medtech industry.
“Amy’s passion for innovative and functional product design rounds out Battelle’s long-standing strengths in HCD and medical device engineering and development,” said Joe Berger, Vice President and General Manager of Battelle’s Health and Consumer Solutions business.
“Her thought leadership will take our design capabilities to a new level.”
Schwartz emphasized that a user with a positive emotional experience with their medical device has a much greater likelihood of adhering to its proper use, which is paramount in today’s environment of evidence- and outcomes-based medicine.
“We need to design personal medical devices so they fit into people’s lives, not the other way around,” Schwartz said.
“Medication adherence is complex, but one simple thing is true: medicine doesn’t work if people don’t take it correctly.”
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In addition to HCD, Battelle’s medical device team is redefining what’s possible when it comes to device security, drug delivery, diagnostics, usability testing and neurotechnology.
It has a multidisciplinary approach staffed by cross-industry teams focused on integrating world-class expertise across a wide range of science and engineering disciplines.
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At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers.