"Medical devices are proliferating in applications ranging from drug delivery to home diagnostics and product designers are increasingly addressing the lifestyle demands of users as these devices become part of everyday life.
In the issue of PRW published today, a four-page feature covers a roundtable discussion in London at which PRW brought together product designers and polymer materials specialists to discuss trends and issues in the medical devices market.
According to the participants, patients are bringing consumer attitudes to their use of medical devices and this presents challenges when designing a product for such demanding users.
For Jo Hippolyte, designer at London Associates, patients are becoming more sophisticated in their choice of treatment: “You can no longer assume that people will necessarily go to the GP and be told what they are going to take, just because they used to.
“There is a younger generation out there who, if they have a condition, don’t necessarily want to publicise it, but want some control.
“Some of the drivers that affect consumer markets are translated into medical demands at the lifestyle end because we are seeing convergence in the market as people’s lifestyles change.
“Young people who are cash rich but time poor have higher expectations; they want some control over how to manage their conditions and they want to be able to integrate it into their lifestyles.”
At the other end of the age range, there is a larger elderly population than ever before and this has big implications in terms of home diagnostics, according to Stephen Knowles, md of Industrial Design Consultancy.
He said: “Older people don’t want to sit in a hospital to treat their conditions; they want more products to support them in their homes.
Knowles added: “The type of devices you need to develop if you have a drug that needs to be taken three times a day is different from [a drug you are taking] once a month. You get more familiar with using a device on a three-times-a-day regime than once a month so the latter needs to be easier to use.”
Ernst Poppe, global development manager – healthcare – DuPont Engineering Polymers, identified two opposing trends in medical devices. “One is the miniaturisation, particularly for the mobile population who want to have devices with them.
“So the devices are smaller, more functional, more reliable, and will have to contain a lot of very precise components with high rigidity and stiffness to work properly." (Continued via PRW.com, Ian Vallely and David Eldridge) [Ergonomics Resources]