Medical Entrepreneurs: 3 Ways to Hit the Healthcare Market where it Needs You Most

As a medical entrepreneur you know that developing consumer-oriented medical devices could bring much needed relief to the current level of unsustainable healthcare expenditures. As communications manager for Whipsaw Inc, an Industrial Design and Engineering company with award-winning work in both the consumer electronics as well as the medical device sector, I found two articles highlighting the importance of combining expertise from both fields into one.

AsianHHM, The Magazine for Hospitals and Healthcare Industry Leaders published an article by Alison Burdett, Director of Technology at Toumaz Technology, UK, on the impact of advanced semiconductor technology on the future of healthcare. In “Medical Devices meet Consumer Electronics,” she states that the current wave in pervasive and personalized healthcare demands for new systems that are more productive, cost-cutting, and promote the move of healthcare applications from the hospital to the home and community settings, especially for long term care of chronic diseases. She adds that new technologies have brought innovations in treatment, diagnostics and intervention that allow the economies of scale to be passed onto the healthcare markets for the first time. But the benefits are not limited to the markets only. For patients, new technologically advanced healthcare applications bring a more personalized healthcare, more convenient to match his or her lifestyle, and with the potential of better therapeutic outcomes thanks to real-time date gathering.

Whipsaw client Outset Medical is at the forefront of this approach with Tablo™, the first dialysis machine with the potential for daily in-home use, and operated by the end user.

Outset Medical Tablo™

Medical wearables are the most popular consumer health products on the market today. Authored by A. Parmar, MD+DI, Medical Device and Diagnostics Industry News, published their “5 Bold Predictions for Medtech in 2016” and stated that large medtechs will look to buy wearables startups to add to their care portfolio. Clinical or medical wearables with FDA approval bring a new level of healthcare and diagnostic support through constant monitoring and (real-time) data gathering. Some have the potential of delivering a therapeutic effect, like Whipsaw client ReGear, who just introduced Vivy™, the first consumer pain management product to use the deep tissue heating and healing powers of diathermy (previously only available in clinics through licensed medical providers).

ReGear Vivy™

Drawing on these 2 articles and our experience in both the consumer electronics, wearables, and medical fields I would like to point out the following important items for anyone considering product development in the medical world today:

· Think user-friendly — if medical devices move from the hospital to the home, the patient or the end-user needs to be able to operate the device on his or her own, without the assistance of a trained professional. This means your product needs to be designed to operate in an easy-to-understand way, for safety reasons as well as to promote your user retention rate.

· Think lifestyle — if your device is to provide continuous healthcare while improving quality of life, it should be designed to conveniently match or easily adapt to a person’s lifestyle. As more choices become available to end-users, their perception on how well your device reflects their self-image and lifestyle will become a determining factor in the decision-making process. This is a simple and often underappreciated affect of design on human psychology.

· Think real-time healthcare — pair the device with an intuitive and user-friendly app to use connected technology and smart devices for real-time data gathering and improved patient outcome. It has the potential to present a more holistic visual of one’s health over time, which the doctor could monitor online.

As the healthcare trend continuous to move long term care from the hospital to the home and involves support from independent patients to the healthcare giver, focus on consumer-oriented, user-friendly design of medical devices (hardware and software) to boost their impact and to assure your company’s success.

~ Sieglinde Van Damme, Strategic Communications Manager at Whipsaw, Inc.

Whipsaw (@whipsaw_inc) is an Industrial Design & Engineering consulting firm with offices in San Jose and San Francisco, California. We focus on innovative product design, development & branding. Whipsaw creates highly successful products across many diverse fields including consumer electronics, housewares, wearables, medical, computing, scientific, and business equipment. Whipsaw’s clients range from large corporations like Avaya, Cisco, Clorox, Dell, Ford, GE, Google, Haier, Intel, Leitz, Merck, Motorola, Nike, Olympus, Samsung, Sony and TP-Link plus exciting startups including Apnicure, Avinger, Dropcam, Highfive, Livescribe, OM Signal and Yubo.

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