On the trail of a revolution in medicine

Industrial design has sparked several revolutions in the IT industry and it is thanks to it that almost all of us use smartphones today. The same principles and the same innovative way of thinking could trigger a similar revolution in the medical industry.

 

Many people misunderstand the concept of functional design. A good and timeless industrial design covers not only the appearance of the finished device, but, above all, the principle of its operation. A qualified designer developing a new product should answer a few key questions:

  • Who will use it?

  • Can this product and its components fulfill the purpose of several other products?

  • Can its operation - or part of it - be simplified or fully automated?

  • How can I prevent the user from making a mistake?

The answers to these questions require a deeper look at the very process of performing a given activity. This approach to projects means that ordinary users receive functional and easy-to-use devices. Today, they offer more and more often advanced features that, until recently, were only available to qualified specialists.

Iconic utility projects

A good utility design echoes throughout the market and becomes an icon for years. Among the devices for everyday use, the following can be indicated:

  • iPhone - abandoning the physical keyboard in favor of a larger touch screen has fundamentally changed the way the device is operated. This key innovation triggered a host of other design decisions and contributed to the creation of the modern smartphone industry.

  • Dyson Cyclone vacuum cleaner - the first bagless household vacuum cleaner, created in the 1970s by the British designer James Dyson. Today, the bag vacuum industry is in reverse and almost every segment offers bagless models.

  • Mini Cooper - this small car practically created the modern hatchback segment and has become the crowning example of a compact family car. All this thanks to a small structure that can comfortably carry 4 people with reasonable luggage.

What characterises a good design in the medical industry?

One of the design legends of the 20th century and the inspiration behind Apple's design studio is Dieter Rams. This German designer developed the famous 10 principles of good utility design. Paul Greenhalgh, Team Design Director, analyzed these 10 principles in the context of medical devices:

  1. A good design is innovative - but adding technology shouldn't be an innovation in itself. This is especially true for the industry that avoids risk at all costs.

  2. A good design is useful - medical devices have a very important task. These are not decorative items. Their primary role should be to diligently perform medical activities.

  3. A good design is aesthetic - the aesthetics of the devices, if possible, should not degrade the patient's mood or create the impression of a hospital environment.

  4. A good design is understandable - the product must be understandable and easy to learn and use. Its effects should be easy to interpret. This should also take into account the potentially fragile health condition of the patient.

  5. A good design is discreet - the device should naturally blend in with the user's environment and adapt to their everyday lifestyle.

  6. A good design is honest – the manufacturers of medical equipment should define its capabilities very carefully. A project like this cannot promise more than it can deliver

  7. A good design lasts a long time –its certification is valid for a long period of time.

  8. Good design is made to the last detail - the medical product starts and ends with its user. The design should eliminate all unnecessary interactions and additional actions on the part of the recipient, as well as misuse.

  9. Good design is environmentally friendly - due to the difficult or impossible recycling process in medicine.

  10. Good design is as simple as possible - in the design of the medical industry this means, above all, simplicity and elegance. All redundant and distracting elements should be removed.

Design trends in the medical industry

The director of the Mindful Design team, Chris Ross, indicates the following trends that will shape the medical market in the coming years:

  • Data exchange - we live in an age where our personal devices routinely collect and send a lot of information about their surroundings. Thanks to IT technology, medical devices can also remotely send information to doctors, or vice-versa. Medical tests are also performed faster and faster, which means that the patients receive their results quicker.

  • Patient first - technology can reduce patient visits to hospitals and provide them with up-to-date instructions based on current home therapy outcomes.

  • Elegant appearance - although this is not the main characteristic of medical products, manufacturers find methods to meet the expectations of users who are used to the latest smartphones and computers. As a result, devices become smaller and more user-friendly.

Revolutionary projects in the medical industry

Recent years have brought a number of revolutionary products that are changing diagnostics and the daily functioning of the medical personnel. The most interesting projects include:

  • Electrocardiogram in Apple Watch - thanks to the sensors in the casing of the fourth generation Apple watches, it has become possible to perform periodic ECG tests at any time and in a form convenient for the patient. MRI results can be sent to the doctor on an ongoing basis, so that immediate action can be taken in case of changes.

  • Enbio S autoclave - winner of the prestigious Red Dot Design Award, the Enbio S autoclave  ensures complete sterilization of medical instruments in a compact and easy-to-use device. The sterilization process in this device can be shortened to even 7 minutes, which gives rescue teams, as well as beauty and tattoo & piercing studios employees, constant access to sterile tools.

  • Abbott FreeStyle Libre - Revolutionary glucose monitoring devices eliminate the need for skin pricking and blood sampling. The sensor of the device is so sensitive that tests can be performed even through thin layers of clothing.

Summary

All these projects and devices are changing our lives for the better step by step. Thanks to them, patients can monitor themselves. Doctors have access to a wide range of information, which allows them to make the right decisions. Medical offices and treatment rooms can easily sterilize their tools, which is especially important in times of pandemic.

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