Thursday, August 27th, 2015
We recently sat down with our very own Serge Dubeau, Vice President of Design & Human Factors, to hear his thoughts on health outsiders and learn more about his unique approach to designing healthcare products. In his more than 20 years working as an industrial designer, Serge has contributed to the development of more than 100 healthcare products for both startups and Fortune 100 companies.
When working on healthcare products, how does your outside design perspective influence your work?
Serge: I tend to ask questions that may seem obvious in order to get at the heart of the problem, and I find that I am often inspired by ideas that are unrelated to medicine. For example, I helped design the Spider Boot, which was inspired by the configuration of a spider’s legs. The boots were engineered to save the lives (and limbs) of people defusing land mines by distancing the foot from the source of the blast. One of the boots is now part of MoMa’s permanent collection.
What steps do you take to learn more about healthcare?
Serge: Whenever possible, I spend time immersed in the healthcare system. Just last year, I met with more than 300 patients and healthcare providers. I even had the opportunity to observe an open-heart surgery, utilizing a new medical product that we designed. By interacting with patients and other key stakeholders, I am able to gain valuable clinical and ethnographic insights that later inform the design process.
What role does human factors and usability testing play in your work?
Serge: By employing human factors engineering and usability testing, I am able to help mitigate user risk and design healthcare products that are safe and intuitive. Ultimately, this improves the lives of both the healthcare provider and the patient. I recently gave a LifeScience Alley presentation on human factors and usability testing. In case you missed it, be sure to check it out below.
Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Tooling costs and the lengthy FDA regulatory process are two of the biggest obstacles for medical device manufacturers. But, what if you could put a production-grade prototype in the hands of users faster and for a fraction of the cost? With 3D printed injection molding (3D IM™), you can alleviate these pain points and get real feedback earlier in the product development cycle.
Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Pete Madson moved to China in 2007 to open Worrell’s Shanghai office. Read on as he discusses his firsthand experiences and perspectives on the importance of understanding local culture before starting the innovation process.
How does local culture influence the design process?
Pete: The majority of China’s population lives in lower-tier cities and rural areas, meaning that price sensitivity and patient affordability are driving factors in all phases of our design process. A typical product development mindset in the West is to adopt new technology, add features and improve durability and quality—typically at the expense of cost. In China (and much of the world), the same clinical outcome or benefit is still required, but various economic constraints force us to look for ways to reduce, eliminate or substitute in order to drive down cost. The only way this can be done effectively (without sacrificing margins) is to spend time observing and probing key stakeholders in the target markets. By doing this, we will quickly discover how to prioritize the product features, and in many cases, what can be eliminated without compromising the desired benefit.
Can you tell us more about the culture at Worrell’s Shanghai office?
Pete: In 2007, we opened our Shanghai office to meet the needs of our foreign multinational healthcare clients. At that time, we recognized the importance of establishing a local backbone for our business while rounding out the team with top talent and influencers from around the world. For this reason, the majority of our staff are Chinese nationals who understand local mentality and culture, while the rest of us are foreign nationals who bring a deeper understanding of Western methodology and communication style to seamlessly interact with our foreign multinational client base. This multicultural “East meets West” office environment is in many ways a microcosm of the dynamic city of Shanghai itself.
What steps have you taken to immerse yourself in the Chinese culture?
Pete: ete: One of the reasons I went into design is because I wanted to spend my career discovering new things and experiencing the world. After spending the last seven years in China and other parts of Asia, I’ve gained an invaluable and entirely new perspective on life – both personally and professionally. We constantly immerse ourselves alongside local physicians, healthcare providers and patients in order to discover the unmet needs of this unique market. This always provides the opportunity to understand, empathize and gain valuable insights that can later inform the design process.
In case you missed it, check out our office video “In China, For China,” which provides an overview of medical device development for the Chinese market.
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
With all that we’ve read on new applications for 3D printing in medicine, it can be a challenge to know which breakthroughs are really worth noting. To sift through the noise, we chatted with physician and entrepreneur Dr. Daniel Kraft (who chairs the annual Exponential Medicine conference) about the state of 3D printing. Below is a round-up covering his views on the latest and greatest advances in 3D printing and their applications for healthcare:
Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
We sat down with our very own CEO Kai Worrell on the heels of a two-week ethnographic research study in India and China. During the Q+A, we asked Kai to discuss how curiosity influences his work and why he recently took a week off work to invest in a cardiac physiology and anatomy intensive course. Check out what he had to say:
How does curiosity influence your work at Worrell?
Kai: At Worrell, most of us feel a very strong desire to spend a lot of time in the field where products are used. One of the reasons people go into a design consultancy is because they want to spend their days discovering new things and having unusual experiences. Our projects are most commonly clinical in nature, and few things are more curious or complex than healthcare and human physiology.
I just returned from a two-week ethnographic research study in India and China. We felt we needed to go there and immerse ourselves in the hospitals to really have a deep appreciation for how they administer a particular therapy. We needed to learn all the things we should carefully consider when designing a product for emerging market conditions. We were confounded by what we saw in the public hospitals, especially in India. Our curiosity is driving us toward a better understanding, which we have to realize before we lock in on a design direction.
You recently attended a class on cardiac physiology and anatomy. Can you tell us more about your experience?
Kai: I have been curious about the cardiovascular system for as long as I can remember, and many of our projects at Worrell address cardiovascular disease. This class was essentially an A to Z on the human heart. The lecture portion of the course covered everything from basic cardiac function and EKG interpretation to anesthesia and interventional surgical techniques. We also visited Dr. Paul Iaizzo’s Visible Heart Lab, where we examined a swine’s heart on a bypass machine. Finally, we were put on teams, each with our own cadaver, where we carefully removed both the heart and lungs. We were afforded the rare opportunity to see what stents, pacemakers, blocked arteries, and oversized hearts actually look and feel like. I came away with a new appreciation for how devices and therapies are more than just the molecules, plastic and metal that they appear to be. You get a sense for what these things actually do inside your body, and how incredibly delicate we are. It was a life changing experience.
YWhat are some key takeaways from your field experiences?
Kai: My personal experiences in the field, including my participation in the recent heart lab class, have fueled my curiosity about the field of medicine. These experiences are also a prime example of the importance of hands-on learning, both in hospitals and in labs. I think when you pair this with all the patients and families we have gotten to know along the way, you feel pretty special that we actually get to design tangible things that make a difference. This is why we are so passionate to learn more about each new project area, and why we put so much effort into the products we design.
Sunday, August 9th, 2015
Which new technologies will likely have the biggest impact on the medical devices of the future? To explore this question, Worrell partnered with Qmed to develop an infographic based on its series of surveys that summarizes four of the latest and most promising technologies for the medical device industry.