User centricity – competitive advantage or minimum requirement

21. Apr. 2016

Medtec Europe - April 2016
Editorial in the show catalogue by Thomas Ullmann

Our health system is undergoing radical change, which is accompanied by a significantly increasing imbalance among all concerned. Highly qualified medical specialists are seen alongside a lack of general practitioners and nursing staff and an increasing number of older and sicker patients. The result is that patients are increasingly having to carry out medical procedures themselves, including using feeding tubes and administering subcutaneous injections. There is also an increasing number of staff in medical facilities who are performing more complex tasks on medical devices under extreme time pressure and with very little advanced training. The lines between patients and specialised personnel are therefore becoming blurred.

In order for medical technology to develop, it is vital that there is a rapid change in perspective. The distinction between patient and specialist as the user still only exists conditionally. Naturally, a doctor or nurse will always have the opportunity to be trained and instructed in the use of a new device. However, if the device is so simple, easy and safe to use that even a patient can use it without any training, this opens up a range of advantages:

  • The probability and frequency of errors decreases, which increases safety during use
  • There is a reduction in the costs and time needed to provide instruction and training
  • Expansion of the target group – the easier a product is to understand and use, the larger the potential target group

Apart from costs, it is only the legal hurdles that are stopping us from using simple diagnostic tools ourselves and sharing and discussing the results with a doctor via Skype. And, today, it is precisely those people with chronic illnesses who often advocate a high degree of self-dependence in order to make treatment easier and less costly.

This is opening up a brand-new market. What if, in future, dialysis patients want to perform dialysis themselves so that they do not have to make the journey to the dialysis centre? Or, what if athletes wanted to be able to closely monitor and analyse their blood values at home?

In the fiercely competitive market of medical technology development, it is advisable that companies continue to accommodate and gear their development towards this the potential user group – because it is only a matter of time before user centricity becomes a standard requirement.