Marc Benet: “The healthcare sector needs product designers to contribute groundbreaking ideas”
Marc Benet studied Industrial Design Engineering at Elisava, a master in Design Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and a postgraduate degree in Advanced Techniques for Industrial Prototyping at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. But, without a doubt, it was Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) that would end up giving his career a whole new twist. After their clinical immersion at Institut Guttmann, Marc and his team founded usMIMA, a start-up that has developed MOWOOT: a non-pharmacological, non-invasive medical device without side effects for chronic constipation. Marc is CCO and CRMO of the company.
A product designer can work in many sectors. Why are you interested in the healthcare sector?
On a personal level, as a product designer from a family of doctors, I have always been interested in finding a way to make my contribution to the healthcare sector by designing new products, new technology, better ideas, etc.
Why do you think it is important to design for the healthcare sector?
The healthcare sector is highly standardized, but one of the things you hear most is: “we do it that way because it’s the way it has always been done.” This is why I think there’s a huge need for creative minds that are a fresh slate, not tainted by established procedures, who can contribute groundbreaking ideas, like product designers.
What makes working in the healthcare sector special?
Really, any sector is interesting as a challenge for a product designer. However, the impact is probably most visible in the healthcare sector, due to the recent incorporation of already exploited technology, new technology and the many small companies creating and promoting their innovations.
What extra difficulties are there in designing for this sector?
The main mission of a product designer is for the idea or concept to be put into practice and, above all, for it to meet the expectations and needs of the clients the product targets. So, engineers have to design the product taking into account technical, functional and safety aspects, efficacy, finances, etc.
The difficulty with the healthcare sector is that it is highly regulated to ensure the quality and safety of the patients who will use the medical technology marketed. These regulations, along with the rules to get commercialization permits that layout the procedures established to design new products, the medical devices directive and constantly changing European regulations, is the greatest challenge a product designer can face.
The healthcare sector has a direct impact on people. How important is the patient when designing a project for the healthcare sector?
Currently, the healthcare sector is constantly changing and implementing all sorts of technology, with its focus on the end client. That is why the healthcare sector is centered around people, who are the main pillar and key stakeholder that will determine its near future.
How can you focus on the patient?
European medical device regulations, with the latest update, apply a much more patient-focused methodology, and the vast majority of organizations use the Design Thinking Process as one of the most powerful, creative tools available today for the design and development process.
It must also be said that the feedback loop is an opportunity to communicate with people and get as much information as possible from their opinions, suggestions, complaints or ideas about the concept of a product being developed or a product already on the market to continue improving products and/or services.
You and your team have developed MOWOOT. What is this technology?
MOWOOT is a unique, innovative medical device that is non-pharmacological and non-invasive, which automatically simulates the abdominal massages targeting the colon that professional physical therapists give patients with chronic idiopathic or neurological constipation (spinal injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson, etc.).
In this case, what role does design play in the project?
In the case of MOWOOT, product design, guided by the Design Thinking Process, has helped us come up with simple products that are very easy to use, efficient and effective, and this is the base of the design that makes it possible for the people it targets to truly accept it.
This method has allowed us, with the limited resources available to most newly created companies plus the controls that medical devices must overcome, to iterate the concept, design and development process for the devices quickly and easily. In a fairly short period of time, we have hit the market with a series of products that cover a real market need and are certified as medical devices in the European Union.
Willing to follow Marc’ steps? We’re looking for designers!
Biocat has open the selection for students of its sixth Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona) edition, a postgraduate program to develop innovators and entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector, with starting date in January, 2019. The 90% of the previous editions participants have found a job in the healthcare sector and 48% of them started their own business project.
Following the Stanford biodesign methodology, participants expeirence a full cycle of innovation. The fellows divide into multidisciplinary teams with graduates in science, design, engineering and business, and do a two-month clinical immersion in top hospitals in Barcelona to detect real unmet clinical needs on site that can be the basis for creating new products or services.
Throughout the program, participants experience a full innovation cycle, from identifying the business idea to designing and prototyping a viable solution and searching for funding. At the same time, they take on valuable knowledge in medicine, business development, design thinking and creative leadership skills from over 70 international professors from Stanford, Kaos Pilot and companies in Silicon Valley, among others.
More information about Design Health Barcelona (d·HEALTH Barcelona).