Medical product development is too often limited by focusing solely on the medical product or device itself. A serious medical product development effort provides the opportunity for design to influence many elements of the overall system of purchase, use and disposal surrounding the product.

For example, “priming” is a concept in cognitive psychology that contends that a person’s response to an item being tested will be influenced by what that person is exposed to just before the test item is introduced. This has important implications for medical product development, in that the package that a product comes in will have a priming effect on the user’s experience of the product. The package — it’s aesthetic and appearance, how easy it is to open, the information it communicates, etc. — must be considered as an integral part of the design of the product or device.

Designing the entire experience surrounding a product’s use is something that the industrial design profession has recognized for some time as being best practice. Of course, designing the experience requires more consideration and more resources than simply designing the product. But investing in the effort required to do this type of extended work will generate strong returns. It is an area that is ripe for innovation in the medical product development field.