The involvement of users in the design of home use medical devices: challenges and incentives for change
thesisposted on 19.11.2014, 16:27 by Tom Grant
The prevalence and use of medical devices in the home environment continues to grow in the United Kingdom (UK) and Worldwide. It is recognised that such devices offer significant benefits to both patients and the National Health Service in the UK. The design of home use medical devices however represents a considerable challenge to designers and manufacturers alike. Developing devices that are usable and understandable by inexperienced, lay or dexterity impaired users requires an understanding across a breadth of disciplines. Previous research in this field has explored these challenges in attempt to offer support for developers of home use medical devices. There have been very few studies however that have explored whether the design community actually need, want or use such guidance, before considering whether this literature is adopted correctly. Through case studies, an online survey and in depth interviews this thesis suggests that industry practitioners are sceptical of the value of design guidance towards user involvement in home use medical device design. Consequently the practitioners in this research make little or no use of the formal design methods and supportive guidance documents available to them. More typically, practitioners in the home use medical device field use their own personal experiences and knowledge from working in the industry to adapt their own approaches to design. This thesis reports that the greatest challenge to involving users in the design of home use medical devices are the internal corporate and traditionally hierarchical barriers between stakeholders within the design process. In contrast to previous research offering support for designers and developers of home use medical devices this thesis calls for a wider change in design practice to facilitate the application of usability principles. As a conclusion to this thesis, recommendations for further research to address these changes in practice are proposed to industry professionals in the medical device industry. This thesis is submitted as part of the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.