One of the major trends in health care is that care once provided in the hospital or clinic is increasingly being provided at home by care givers or by the patients themselves. This trend gives rise to a number of issues that affect medical device design:
- Because users of medical devices in the home will not have the training and the experience of the professionals in hospitals and clinics, designing medical devices to be as intuitive as possible will be increasingly important. Medical devices will need to be designed in a way that gives patients and care givers confidence that they’ve operated the device correctly and that it is functioning properly. Providing clear feedback to the user will be paramount.
- Medical devices used in the home will achieve greater market acceptance if they have an aesthetic that is appropriate for that environment. Medical device design will be influenced by other products found in the home. Just as with consumer products, where similar functionality is packaged in many different ways to appeal to different market segments, there will be more opportunity to use industrial design to similarly differentiate medical devices.
- Making medical devices more portable will be extremely important. Patients will be able to enjoy greater mobility when they are not in the hospital environment. This will encourage medical device designers to develop devices that patients can take with them, and that will be unobtrusive even when used in public spaces.
- Finally, the home environment presents increased challenges in maintaining cleanliness/sterility that medical device designers will need to consider.
Undoubtedly, other issues involving medical device design will become apparent as more care moves to the home.