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Healthcare IT News

Patients want more user-friendly medical devices

May 31, 2011 | Healthcare IT News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, MA – User experience should be at the forefront of medical device development, according to a new report.

Cambridge Consultants, a technology design and development firm, released the findings of a study Wednesday, which examines how device usability impacts patient acceptance, dosage compliance and ultimately health outcomes. Looking at the role lifestyle factors and device features play in patient compliance for drug and device combination products, the research supports the idea that pharmaceutical companies could improve the market share of their drugs if the emphasis was shifted to the broader patient user experience.

Participants in the survey included healthcare providers, which play critical roles in determining a drug’s market success, and over 240 diabetes patients who used combination products daily, such as injection pens, auto-injectors or insulin pumps.

Responses indicated that patient compliance directly influences patient health and drug efficacy, suggesting that delivery device design should be focussed on supporting compliance on multiple levels. Specifically, the study shows that:

  • Patients will pay more for ease-of-use

77 percent of patients responded that they would be willing to pay a slight premium (around $5) for more user-friendly devices.

  • Patients have a greater choice of devices than ever, and are making informed decisions

75 percent of patients reported that their doctor gave them a choice of which device to use. Of these, the largest percentage (28 percent) took their doctor’s recommendation, however a close second at 21 percent stated they did their own research before selecting a device.

  • Lifestyle factors the biggest reason for changing devices

Of the patients who had later requested a change in their drug delivery devices, lifestyle factors such as discretion (28 percent) and portability (21 percent) were by far the biggest catalysts for change.

  • Doctors recognize that better devices mean better compliance

Notably, every healthcare provider surveyed believed that device usability impacts patient compliance.

“The findings challenge traditional medical device industry conceptions about compliance and the patient experience,” said Melanie Turieo, Human Factors team leader at Cambridge Consultants.  “The industry has been good at maximizing drug efficacy but patient experience factors have not really been a primary focus.  Only now are we seeing the patient experience take center stage.  Drug makers need to realize that if you consider the patient’s broader needs throughout the development process—from conception, to design, development and commercialization—you are likely to have a more successful and effective product, resulting in improved compliance and therefore improved patient outcomes.”

Patient experience is defined as encompassing all aspects of a patient’s interaction and experience with a medical product. This is a holistic approach including elements like smarter packaging, instructions for use, starter kits, and developing online device or therapy communities.  In a time of increased online collaboration, patients have become increasingly aware and proactive in defining their treatment regimens.  Online community portals such as patientslikeme, CureTogether, and tudiabetes.org have become increasingly important tools for patients and providers alike to validate or discredit certain drugs or devices.

Original article at http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/patients-want-more-user-friendly-medical-devices