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Why modern medical device UX deserves a booster shot

The top reasons why effective medical device UX is critical for patient outcomes, safety, and market success.

Efficiency. Quality assurance. Timing. These are just a few of the crucial elements of any healthcare environment, from sprawling hospital complexes to quaint local clinics and long-term care facilities to remote patient care at home. The right device user experience (UX) for healthcare staff needs to check a whole lot of boxes in order to be a viable option while remaining cost-effective and safe, positioning it as a true competitor to others out there in the market. It should provide immediate, stress-free access to critical data points, updates, communications, and other elements essential in modern-day medical care.

Today, let’s explore why giving your own medical device UX such a booster shot can bolster its efficacy in real-world scenarios.

Watch Webinar - UI Design and Safety in Medical Devices

Avoid the pitfalls of bad medical user interface design – and safety errors

In healthcare environments, staff have enough going on. An infinite number of spreadsheets, electronic health records, and other documents to manage. Patients can alter care plans based on their changing symptoms and subsequent needs. Risk-aware diagnostics and planning. If the medical user interface – a core part of the overall UX itself – isn’t up to snuff, you’re increasing the potential of needless complications. This can be fatal, and it’s also completely avoidable (see our blog on the perils of bad medical interface design).

A clean, lag-free, properly organized and structured graphical user interface (GUI) that doesn’t require an engineering degree to navigate can save precious time – not to mention lives.

Reduce the risk of GUI-induced recalls

Generally speaking, healthcare providers don’t put up with subpar software for the risks touched on above, among others. A well-optimized, thoroughly tested medical equipment interface acts as a gateway to a happy, satisfied user who isn’t burdened by, well, using it – and that can mean fewer recalls caused by GUI-related problems. It shouldn’t be complex to perform and get feedback on tasks, let alone navigate the menu hierarchy and screens. You want the entire GUI to be snappy and responsive, especially when healthcare staff are already spread wafer-thin and have their days jam-packed with responsibilities. If a competitor is slapping every feature under the sun into their GUI but there’s a bunch of complaints surrounding navigational issues, stuttering, crashes, data loss, or otherwise, then they’re no better off. Developers should prioritize the needs of healthcare clients and those who count on their capabilities daily.

Top 3 medical device recalls by typeTop 3 medical device recalls by type

Training and retention

Now more than ever, healthcare operators need to hang onto the talent they have, not to mention bring on more qualified workers to fill mission-critical positions. Having a streamlined, effective medical device UX can go a very long way towards engaging, informing, and guiding employees throughout their training and everyday duties. In fact, with well-optimized software and an equipment setup that doesn’t interfere with their operating requirements, they may even stick around for longer, meaning higher retention rates. Training time may also potentially be shortened, and fewer hiccups may be encountered along the road to integrating new employees with existing staff.

See how Ventec Life Systems combined several traditional ventilator functions into one through simplified UX design in this case study.

Improve patient outcomes

Of course, the most crucial aspect of any healthcare environment is how to improve the patient experience. More accurate and informed diagnoses, hassle-free consultations (even virtually if the UX can support it, enabling for new solutions), regularly updated care plans where it’s easier to log important updates and make refinements as needed, and more await those who have a sufficiently capable and reliable software experience. In that sense, a positive employee experience directly correlates with that of the patient. After all, it isn’t about snazzy devices but rather what one can do with them – and whether UX should be embraced rather than dreaded in the first place.

At the end of the day, never put the cart before the horse. In other words, the user experience should serve as the foundation that the physical hardware supports, not the other way around. Proper, effective medical UX isn’t tacked on – a nice-to-have with sleek graphics – but rather it should be treated as an absolute necessity that takes precedence over any add-on feature or visual design nicety. This is how your software can stand out from the pack while prioritizing the actual needs of real-world medical professionals, right down to non-intrusive animations, smooth screen transitions, and simple-to-use UX.

Get strategies and best practices for UX design, hardware selection, and GUI development in this webinar with BlackBerry QNX, Toradex, and Crank Software:

Watch Webinar - UI Design and Safety in Medical Devices

Topics: Medical

Originally published: Aug 12, 2021 11:45:00 AM, updated 08/12/21

Scott Snider
Written by Scott Snider

Scott is a product marketing manager at Crank Software. With over 20 years of experience across multiple disciplines within the tech sector, he is passionate about helping businesses ignite their inner desire for creating exceptional user experiences within their products' embedded graphical user interfaces.

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