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What to Know About UX for Medical Device Design

How designers and developers are looking to technology advances for inspiration.

September 25, 2023

5 Min Read
User Experience
scyther5 / iStock via Getty Images

Irina Samkova, UX/Graphic Designer, BlackHägen Design

Digital transformation, long a mission for aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and food processing, has now become an essential component for medical device designers and developers. Socio-economic pressures and regulatory updates are propelling innovations in both self-care and clinical devices that are intuitive, graphically pleasing, and meet safety standards for the end-user. Manufacturers are embracing these new digital opportunities in order to bring their products efficiently and cost-effectively to market in an increasingly competitive environment.

User Experience (UX) design is a driving force in design development to ensure positive outcomes for patient safety, usability, regulatory approvals, and product success. This article will highlight some of the new trends that designers and developers are deploying to make that happen. Interfaces that are user-friendly, straightforward, and easy to navigate will increase the acceptance of these new designs.

Micro-interaction and animation

Micro-interaction and animation have gained prominence in digital design. Given their ability to enhance user experience and engagement, it is likely they will continue to play a significant role in digital design. Micro-interaction is subtle, brief, and is focused on design elements that emerge out of response to specific user actions. They can be a subtle animation, sound effect, or visual cue that responds to the user’s action or voice. These interactions provide feedback to users, making the interface a more intuitive, enjoyable, and interactive experience.

Animations also contribute to creating a more dynamic and immersive user experience. They can range from loading animations to smooth transitions between different screens and elements. Animations not only add visual appeal but also aid in guiding users through the interface and drawing their attention to important information.

Gesture-based features

Integrating gesture-based features into medical UX offers several benefits and enhances the overall impression. For gesture-based interfaces, designers consider how users interact with the device, including the intended environment, anatomical position and posture, and the tasks they will be performing. This information identifies design gestures that are appropriate and effective for the user’s context of use. ­Here are some ways the gesture-based feature is used in medical UX:

  • Image Viewing: In medical imaging applications, such as X-rays or MRI scans, swiping gestures can enable users to move through a series of images or zoom in and out of specific areas for better resolution.

  • Gesture-Based Menus: Swiping can be used to access hidden menus or navigation options in medical interfaces. For instance, a swipe from the edge of the screen could reveal a context menu with additional functions or information.

  • Sorting and Filtering: In medical data analysis or patient management systems, swiping gestures can be used to sort or filter data, permitting users to rearrange or refine information to suit their personal preferences.

Minimalism

Minimalism ensures that the design is focused on the most critical elements and tasks. By simplifying the process and removing unnecessary visual clutter and distractions, medical UX becomes more straightforward, making it easier and faster for users to access the information they need and perform essential tasks with as few steps as possible. For example, minimalism creates a clear visual path by using contrast and spacing correctly. A simplistic interface ensures that users can easily identify the most important elements and actions within the medical device.

Simplifying the design and reducing elements also leads to faster uploading times. This is crucial for such medical applications that often contain essential patient data and that would need to be accessed in real-time.

Voice control for non-contact interaction

Non-contact interaction in medical UX offers a valuable and convenient way for medical professionals to interface with their device without physical touch. This can be achieved via voice commands for common medical tasks, such as retrieving patient records, checking schedules, or entering notes. This technology has become increasingly relevant, especially in the context of infection control and hygiene, as it alleviates the need for­­ touching interfaces.

Accessibility

Accessibility in medical UX is the practice of designing healthcare applications and devices to be inclusive and usable by individuals with disabilities. It ensures that all patients, medical professionals, and users — regardless of their abilities — can access and interact with medical interfaces effectively. Considering accessibility in medical UX is not only a legal requirement in many countries, but also satisfies a moral obligation to provide equal opportunities.

Personalization

One of the trends in UX application design is to allow users to customize the platform interface. It drives greater customer acceptance, satisfaction, and usability of the product.

Omnichannel navigation

In medical UX, omnichannel navigation refers to designing a seamless and consistent user experience across multiple channels and devices in the healthcare domain. It ensures that patients and medical professionals can access and interact with medical services and information effortlessly, regardless of the platform they use, such as device interfaces, mobile apps, web apps, or wearable devices.

Mobile apps

Mobile phones are continuing to play a significant role in medical UX, providing healthcare professionals, patients, and other stakeholders with a convenient and accessible platform for accessing medical information. These phone apps manage health-related tasks and deliver healthcare data such as check-ins and data logging.

The patient-centric approach

 As its name suggests, UX is a patient and user-centered approach that strives to ensure the acceptance and safety of medical devices. In both clinical settings and in-home self-care, UX has helped designers and developers make great strides in presenting exciting new features that meet regulatory rigor and safety standards. We will continue to see innovations that will further improve user experiences, a focus that is the core mission of every medical device designer.

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