Leveraging Industrial Design in Medical Device Development

June 20, 2011

By Aidan Petrie, Chief Innovation Officer & Co-founder

Too often at conferences, I hear that industrial design (ID) is something you do at the end—for aesthetics. However, particularly in medical device development, ID plays a significant role when brought in early and considered throughout development.

The reason most people overlook it is mainly due to uncertainty about how to integrate ID early on and all along. As a result, medical device manufacturers often prescribe single ID activities, usually relating to ergonomics or form factors.

This is unfortunate because proper ID ensures devices are targeted to market need, appropriate for brand aspiration, and fit for human use. The right approach to ID can increase speed to market, not lengthen it, by ensuring important factors are considered early.

Overall, I’ll give five advantages to incorporating ID early, including to:
The reasons for each advantage above go well beyond the scope (and word count) of this blog, but are detailed in a recent article I co-authored with my colleague, David Copeland, for Medical Design magazine, titled “The value of industrial design in medical device development.”

  1. Create more opportunities or options that can be evaluated by a development team
  2. Develop the best form and interface for all those who’ll handle the device
  3. Gain consensus at the beginning of a program, aligning teams for an efficient execution
  4. Differentiate the brand, conveying its language and value through the physical product
  5. Ensure that the device is optimized and validated for usability, as well as delightful to use

The bottom line is that as competition increases, the leaders that emerge will no doubt be those companies that strategically partner with ID capabilities, whether in house or outsourced. For these will be the medical device makers that create the safest, most user-centric products, while consistently conveying their unique identity with meaningful impact.