We caught up with Ronan Benson of ahead of his talk at Medical Technology Ireland to ask about his perspective on usability for medical devices. Benson is the Senior Industrial Engineer at Synecco and his talk is titled “Utilizing IEC 62366 Usability Engineering standard to understand and optimize how users interact with medical devices.”
Q&A With Ronan Benson, Senior Industrial Engineer at Synecco
What is the most common OEM mistake concerning usability and interface design?
Ronan Benson: In my opinion, the most common mistake is considering usability too late in the development process.
Often we are presented with production equivalent devices, as existing plastic parts come off tools that already have significant and fundamental issues of usability. As obvious as it may seem, these issues should be solved at the prototyping stage and well before a tool was even cut.
Is there a standard process OEMs can adopt to ensure the end is put in the best position to do their job effectively?
Ronan Benson: Yes! IEC 62366 contains tool standards and techniques that can make a robust usability engineering process, but it starts with the individual organization’s willingness to implement that process. It’s imperative that companies make intentional efforts and set goals to develop their own SOPs to meet these standards.
At a very high level, 62366 requires manufacturers to:
- Empathize with and understand their users.
- Engage with their users early and often.
- Iterate on their designs as they receive feedback from their users.
Does spending extra time and funding on usability translate to better patient outcomes? In what way?
Ronan Benson: Absolutely! The central point I will be making in my talk tomorrow is that for medical devices, usability can be a matter of life and death! That statement in not sensationalist.
An estimated 250,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors, and a robust and thorough usability engineering process can catch a wide assortment of potential user errors before a device ever gets to market. We have the data to know usability isn’t icing on the cake anymore. It IS the cake.
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