Clinical Insights Make Better Medical Devices

Clinical Insights Make Better Medical Devices

Clinical Insights Make Better Medical Devices

  • Posted by Bobby Burch
  • On July 11, 2022
  • Clinical Insights

What good is a medical device if patients or clinicians can’t actually use it in their everyday life?

That question may have an obvious answer: it’s practically worthless. And yet it’s a query that is regularly ignored altogether.

Over the years, we’ve seen many expensive, heavily-researched medical devices become glorified paperweights simply because they weren’t intentionally designed with the end-user in mind. Perhaps the device is unintuitive, uncomfortable, too bulky, overly complicated to use, or just doesn’t fit with standard clinical workflows.

Whatever the case, the result is the same: a patient or clinician doesn’t want to use it and that adversely affects health outcomes. Or worse, the clinician uses it incorrectly causing harm. Unfortunately, by the time a poorly-designed medical device is in the hands of a healthcare professional, it’s already cleared through regulatory channels, mass-produced, and on the market.

This confounding challenge is precisely why we created our Clinical Insights Program at Engenious.

Quote from Laura Hatesohl

The Clinical Insights Program

Clinician Insights Program

Launched in 2018, the Engenious Design’s Clinical Insights Program is a key tool to addressing the challenges that patients and clinicians regularly encounter with poorly-designed medical devices.

The program’s primary goal is to create great user experiences by involving healthcare providers early and often in the development of each medical device. Through our program, we proactively seek out regular, meaningful feedback from healthcare professionals and incorporate their insights into the design of the tools and equipment they use daily.

The program is not lip service, nor a means to check a box to validate human factors. It’s a core component of our design approach and is intended to help create devices that enhance health care and improve people’s lives.

The Clinical Insights Program team includes highly-specialized healthcare professionals who collaborate with our design team through focus groups, surveys, phone conversations, in-person concept or prototype evaluations, and interviews.

How The Clinical Insights Program Works

The Clinical Insights Program team includes highly-specialized healthcare professionals who collaborate with our design team through focus groups, surveys, phone conversations, in-person concept or prototype evaluations, and interviews.

Erika noted that the Clinical Insights Program has helped her design team reshape its understanding of a product’s physicality and how it’ll be used in the field.

“One example that comes to mind is early in a project where we thought it would be a really great idea to develop a two-part device with a 15-inch monitor to solve for issues of visibility,” she said. “We came to find out our beautifully-envisioned product didn’t fit in the hospital room due to the footprint of all the other necessary equipment. At the time, it felt like we were taking a step backward in redefining the product architecture and form factor, but that early insight and sprint to a physical prototype set us up to create something even better than our first idea.”

Through this two-track model, Engenious Designs is better able to create excellent caregiver and patient experiences with medical devices that are designed with healthcare providers’ observations, insights, and expertise in mind.

“Once a medical device product design starts to form, it is critical to review the design with clinicians who would use the product,” said Abby Wilms, Project Management Group Lead at Engenious Designs. “Reviewing a product with clinicians can glean insights into the use case, the desired clinical performance, and the ideal product functionality. All of this information is used to improve the design. Over time this becomes an iterative product and the relationship between end users/clinicians and the design team is key to ensuring a product meets requirements and user needs.”

What Healthcare Professionals Say About The Program

We’re proud of the impact that the Clinical Insights Program has made on crafting intentionally designed medical deceives. We’ve seen firsthand how this program has transformed clinicians’ work and patients’ health outcomes for the better.

Don’t take our word for it. We spoke with medical professionals involved in the Clinical Insights Program about their experience, including Laura Hatesohl, a registered nurse at KU Ambulatory Surgery Center at Indian Creek and a member of Engenious Design’s Clinical Insights team.

Engenious Designs: How often have new medical products appeared in your hospital you felt were poorly designed?

Laura: Often in my work setting, I have said or heard clinicians exclaim Who designed this?! Things that we use daily don’t seem to have been designed with the end-user in mind at all. They don’t fit where they should in the hospital room, they are difficult to travel with or they aren’t intuitive to set up or troubleshoot. If clinicians or the end-user were consulted in the design phase, many of the issues could be solved.

Engenious Designs: Has your feedback in the Clinical Insights Program helped shape the final product in different ways?

Laura: Yes, the engineers and design team at Engenious use feedback like mine in all sorts of ways. Most importantly, they tailor product functionality to give clinicians what they actually need from a device. Then they help fit the product into our existing workflows and create an interface that is intuitive.


Laura at Bedside giving feedback about product

Engenious Designs: What types of interaction do you have with the designers and engineers, and at what stages of the design do you provide input?

Laura: I’ve had interactions with the team throughout the design process. It is so nice to work with engineers and product designers early in the design process. Often the team will sit down and ask us as clinicians to explain a workflow or process we currently use. They can use this information to design a product that fits into this established workflow so that we don’t have to create a new one or use workarounds. We even get to answer the question of “is this something you need” or “what could this device do that would make it help you more or be more useful?” Then when the process is a little further along they’ll have us look at user interfaces or try out the software and make changes based on that feedback. I find it most rewarding to give feedback in these phases but I’ve also worked with the team during the final design phases making little adjustments and tweaks for the final product.

Engenious Designs: Are there specific times where your input has drastically changed the project for the better?

Laura: Once when later in the design process, I was asked to come in and set up a product just like I would in the hospital at the bedside. There was one step that I couldn’t figure out and eventually, the engineers had to coach me so I could complete the setup. Turns out that another nurse who had to try the setup had an issue at the same step. The team was able to change that particular part of its setup to avoid a whole lot of frustration for users in the hospital.

Engenious Designs: Anything else you’d like to add about the Engenious Design Clinical Insight program?

Laura: Working in the clinical insights program has been so rewarding. Having designers and engineers use all my years of experience at the bedside to make products better makes me feel like I’m moving things forward and making things better. It’s also really fun to work with a group of people working hard towards a goal who find my experience and knowledge valuable.

About Engenious Design:
We are a creative engineering consulting firm specializing in electronic medical device design and product development. Our team includes Electrical, Embedded Software, Mechanical and Test Engineers, Industrial, Interaction and Graphic Designers that together create medical devices and advanced technology products. Our team brings their experience working with 10 of the top 20 medical device companies and a variety of start-ups you’ll be hearing about soon.


Bobby Burch Headshot
Bobby Burch

Since 2012, Bobby Burch has served as a journalist writing on business, entrepreneurship, and technology. He is a former reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal and is a co-founder of Startland News, a publication dedicated to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kansas City. Outside of writing, Bobby is a fine art nature photographer capturing the beauty of U.S. public lands to help conserve them.