Designing a Novel Support System for Feeding Pumps - A Case Study in User Involvement in Medical Design



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Usability is an important aspect of medical product design, yet in spite of this fact, many medical device developers do not incorporate user-centered design methods when they design their products. One study found that only one in eleven medical device manufacturers involved users in their design process (Money et al., 2011). One reason that the companies did not involve users was that they considered the opinions of “low-ranking” users like nurses, patients, or family caregivers to not be valuable. The present study hypothesizes that involving “low-ranking” users in the design process will ultimately lead to better design outcomes. Equipment used to hang enteral feeding pumps, such as IV poles and specialized backpacks, was selected as an area of exploration for a case study in user involvement in the medical product design process. Four families whose children use enteral feeding pumps participated in the study. Phase one of the research involved visiting the families’ homes to better understand their difficulties with the equipment and gather their ideas for how it could be improved. “Works-like” prototypes of two different feeding pump holder designs were developed based on their ideas. These two prototypes were tested by the participants in phase two of the study, and they provided feedback on the design. When asked to rank each prototype and their previous feeding pump hanging method on a variety of usability criteria, participants preferred Concept 2: the quick-release system. A final design was developed based on Concept 2 and the participants’ suggestions to further improve it. The final design outcome was “Tag Along,” which is a modular system consisting of a short pole that holds the feeding bag and the feeding pump together as one unit, and can quickly be snapped into a tabletop stand, snapped into a clamp that can be attached to various equipment like wheelchairs, or can hang independently. The participants made valuable contributions to the design in both phases of the research. The results of the case study supported the hypothesis, because the involvement of users in the design process led to a design that was preferred by the users.



Medical devices, Design process, User-centered design, Enteral feeding, Usability