Two factors are driving a new wave of medical products. The first is the use of technology to make products “intelligent” – that is, build them not only to measure a particular parameter, like blood glucose, but to help patients and caregivers manage conditions. This allows the users of these products focus less on the technical aspects of treating a condition (e.g. calculating the proper amount of insulin to treat a given level of blood glucose) and more on the overall management of the disease. The second development is the rapid movement of devices from the doctor's office to the home. Chain drugstores carry dozens of medical devices for home use by consumers. The challenge for manufacturers and designers is to present the medical device's intelligence in a way that is palatable to the consumer. One important theme is that medical product consumers are also consumers of everything else: home electronics, appliances, clothing, etc. These consumers are applying the same decision-making processes they use when buying a blender to the process of buying a medical device. It is therefore necessary for medical product manufacturers to create devices that interact with consumers in consumer-friendly ways. Putting intelligence into a product is one thing; helping the consumer utilize and appreciate it is quite another. This chapter covers some principles to keep in mind, and discusses a framework for better design of intelligent medical products that connect with consumers on emotional and functional levels beyond simple medical efficacy.
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