Monthly Archives: July 2013

Darn users!

I’m visiting Berlin in September, a city I’ve never even thought of travelling to before.  Apart from a chance to see somewhere new, I have been invited to talk at the Pre-Filled Syringes and Novel Injector Devices conference.  Human factors is a new topic for this annual conference, so I’m pleased to be asked along.

I’ll be sharing my experiences of how humans factor in medical device design, particularly how to “design for usability”, using a successful strategy that I’ve developed with our clients.

As well as this, we’ll be exploring why you should make sure the device is actually safe for its intended use, and how to go about it.

With all the design changes happening as you develop your device, it’s critical to keep traceability between design features, iterations, usability testing results and their impact on the next iteration.  As you get closer to the final device, your approach to these design modifications will change.  At the conference, I’ll be reviewing how to approach design modifications at the different stages of development.

Maybe one or more of these items sound like something you’d be interested in.  Put 17 September in your diary and I’ll see you in Berlin!

Aiming for the stars


The most interesting and memorable presentations tell stories, infused with the speaker’s passion and real-life experiences.  Check out Al Gore’s TED presentation to see what I’m talking about.Al Gore at TED

So, when Medilink invited me to present a “master class” in human factors for medical devices, it was my opportunity to step up to the plate.

The timing was fantastic!

For the past 3 years I’d been learning about NLP and putting it into practice.  As part of my training, I needed to deliver a presentation that demonstrated all I’d learned as a Master Practitioner.  The topic was up to me, an ideal opportunity to create something out of the ordinary that I could also use for the master class.

I wove together three stories about how people interact with everyday objects and their usability. I added some images to fit with the stories, steering clear of “death by powerpoint”.  Along the way we talked about the main steps in getting human factors right and why it’s so important to a good medical device.

And the results….

  • I passed the Master Practitioner course with flying colours…
  • Feedback from the Medilink course attendees last November was entirely “very good” or “excellent”.

In fact, I’ve been invited back for a repeat of the master class later this year.  Perhaps you’d like to come along. It’s on 25th September, in Birmingham, here’s more information.


The other side of the fence

Maybe you’ve visited exhibitions, attended industry conferences. Ever wondered what it’s like to be an exhibitor?

My working life has seen me visit lots of exhibitions and attend a variety of conference sessions. This May, however, we were on the “other side of the fence” for the very first time. Our team was invited to co-exhibit at MedTec UK in London, by a company with whom we’re developing a partnership. They’re a great bunch to work with, so we leapt at the chance.

The two days at MedTec gave us the chance to learn more about how each other describes what we do, test different ways to say that to visitors and watch how potential clients responded. An early lesson on day one was that people engaged with usability when we talked about some of the strange things that “real users” do during testing as well as how products really benefit.

When conversations turned to quality and regulatory, a surprising number of visitors sounded visibly relieved at the idea of someone being around to guide them through the requirements and look after documentation.

The result of the lessons; we noticed that visitors moved from saying things like “oh, we don’t need that yet” or “we already have a leaflet” , to “I need to talk with you about CE marking” and “I could use some help“. Others asked for more details about how usability and quality support can be part of their device projects.

Day two, and we were in a groove. We were comfortable with working together and moving around the exhibition floor meeting new people, talking with exhibitors that looked interesting. We met up with a few people we’ve worked with before and were introduced to people that we will likely work with in the future. At one stand, it turned out that we’d worked on the same automated testing systems for a client, albeit a couple of years apart!

It was more tiring than I’d expected, standing up for two days, talking with lots of different people. The $64,000 question; would we do it again? We came away with lots of creative ideas to entertain and engage with visitors. So if we decide to jump over the fence again, it will be a lot of fun turning some of these ideas into reality.