'Above All, Do No Harm'

May 18, 2016

By Hope Hopkins, Director of Communications

The recent media swarm around the British Medical Journal research claiming that Medical Error is the 3rd leading cause of death in US leaves Dr. Don Berwick confounded. In an interview with Boston Public Radio he asserts this isn’t news. “This burden we bear of consequences of errors and injuries in healthcare has now been known for well over 20 years, and carefully documented… actually there’s almost nothing new in this paper, and it’s a little bit perplexing why the public is so unaware of this.”

It’s actually not so perplexing that the public is only just becoming aware. Prior to these last four years we consumed healthcare in an entirely different manner-deferential to our trusted doctors, shelling out the monies for premiums and deductibles because we typically found ourselves in need of being seen. The last three to four years alone have seen a tremendous shift in the role of the consumer in healthcare as we go from reactive to proactive in our approach to our personal health. This, in addition to the swell of rhetoric circling healthcare policy with 2016 being an election year and consumer technology companies (e.g. Google and Apple) making headlines by “going into health” means all eyes are on the industry.

Consumer impetus and in particular demand is also in part responsible for driving greater complexity within the medical landscape. New technologies, procedures and treatments are becoming available adding layer upon layer to the complexity of delivering a safe solution.

It is for all of these aforementioned factors that the role of design in delivering safer, more efficacious products has become ever more vital as does the importance to understand the end user and context of use. While a doctor must adhere to his Hippocratic Oath-‘above all, do no harm’ the MedTech design and development team of today has it’s own version-‘know thy user.’

Hear more from Dr. Berwick.