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Usability, Modern Design Benefit Blood Analysis System

Product design firm Bresslergroup gave BD’s Bactec system a user-friendly makeover

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Usability, Modern Design Benefit Blood Analysis System
Product design firm Bresslergroup gave BD’s Bactec system a user-friendly makeover

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Design improvements to BD’s blood analysis system yielded a more user-friendly and compact product.
Manufactured by BD Diagnostics (Sparks, MD; www.bd.com), the Bactec FX blood culture system is used by technicians in hospital labs for the detection of potentially fatal patient bloodstream infections. Although its Bactec blood analysis system had served the industry for nearly two decades, BD selected product development firm Bresslergroup Inc. (Philadelphia; www.bresslergroup.com) to develop a fresh and modern version of the system.

To evaluate potential improvements to the design, Bresslergroup performed multidimensional user research that included laboratory site visits, human factors analysis, and prototype usability validation. Lab-based observations and interviews with technicians using legacy and competitive products were conducted, and several new configurations were tested. From this research, three key needs were identified: improve the user experience, including the ergonomics of loading and unloading the blood specimens; enhance the lighting and visual cues for identifying detected positives more rapidly; and streamline the overall size without decreasing the 400-vile capacity.

The resulting product offers significant design improvements that address usability and work flow. Most dramatically, critical results feedback is displayed by the unmistakable ring of status indicator lights. These LED lights can be seen quickly by hospital personnel, even across a crowded lab. From the exterior ring of lights, a red light signals a positive test, which could indicate a staph or other serious bacterial infection. The flashing red light leads the technician to the proper rack inside where another red light identifies the problematic blood sample. Ultimately, the user experience is simple, intuitive, and actionable. “The lighting sequence takes the user through the process and helps speed work flow and minimize error,” says Mathieu Turpault, design director at Bresslergroup.

Ergonomically, the twin vertical drawer design allows increased vial capacity while improving the technician’s ability to reach both high and low vials. Human factors research led to a vertical stack design that is easily accessible to personnel of all heights. Onboard scanners enable easy one-handed sample log-in and registration as well. And, the new Bactec FX system offers a 400-vial capacity in a compact 24-in. linear space—a 50% reduction in overall size from the previous model. Additionally, the system enables remote observation of blood culture data through integration with the BD EpiCenter microbiology data management system. The BD Bactec FX improves ergonomics, safety, and efficiency for the laboratory technician, while reducing the time for actionable results to the healthcare provider and patient.

“Bresslergroup has built a trust within our organization that allows it to push for ideas that might be slightly outside of what we might otherwise be comfortable with,” notes David Lentz, R&D manager/R&D hardware engineering, BD Diagnostics. “There are two examples of this on this project. Their integrated approach to the handle and indicators were a Bresslergroup creation that combined functional efficiency, ergonomics, and aesthetics into a feature that creates a unique identity. In addition, the human factors assessment was critical in our decision to maintain a fixed bar code scanner on the lower unit, even at some additional cost, but ultimately to the benefit of the users.”

Copyright ©2009 Medical Product Manufacturing News
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