Maybe you’ve thought it yourself, maybe you’ve heard a coworker say it, or maybe it permeates the culture of your organization, but if you’ve worked in the healthcare field long enough you’ve probably heard some iteration of this mindset, “The user would die if it weren’t for our product, I doubt they are going to be picky about how it looks.”
When you are discovering drugs and inventing devices that literally save people’s lives, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “A working product is a good enough product,” but this is the mindset that ruins healthcare design.
People deserve better than this. Fortunately for consumers, many companies have started giving people what they deserve and have created products that people actually love using. These companies make more money than companies that design products that simply work, because people are willing to pay a premium for products that they love to use.
“You need to design products people fall in love with."
The moral of the story: A working product is not good enough, and your company will lose if you think it is. You need to design products people fall in love with.
Since you’re reading this, you are probably one of the people that know industrial design matters, yet, we know how hard it can be to convince the rest of your organization why design matters. To help you out, we created this guide for answering the three most common questions asked by the people stuck in the mindset that ruins healthcare design:
1. WHY DOES IT MATTER IF PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE WITH THE HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS WE CREATE?
Every instance a person interacts with one of your products presents an opportunity to make a person’s life a little better. Greg Johnson, the director of industrial design at Worrell, explained how this mindset influences his design process, “When we are designing a product, we are not just designing a product. We are making a moment in a person’s life. We have to respect that moment, each one of those moment of a person’s life matters.”
These moments are especially important in the healthcare industry. Creating devices and tools that are easy or even delightful for surgeons to use can contribute to decreasing the overall stress in the OR and increasing the likelihood of a successful surgery. When considering the devices that people use in their own homes, such as inhalers and syringes, designers have the opportunity to transform an overwhelming and scary moment into a controlled and peaceful moment through great design.
2. IS IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE WITH?
Designers in industries far less glamorous than healthcare have figured out a way to create products that people fall in love with. Take Dyson vacuum cleaners for example. People enthusiastically pay over $500 for a home vacuum, because the ingenious design of the vacuum transforms the dull task of cleaning the house into a joyful experience.
If people can fall in love with a vacuum, they can fall in love with any healthcare related product. Where Dyson seized on the opportunity to turn housework into a delightful experience, the healthcare industry can transform painstaking procedures and routine selfcare into empowering, joy-filled experiences.
3. HOW DO YOU CREATE HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS THAT PEOPLE FALL IN LOVE WITH?
Knowing what people are craving is a prerequisite to creating products people love. To identify the wants and needs of end users, it’s necessary to spend a lot of time listening and learning from them. Unfortunately, learning from people is rarely a straight–forward process, because people often use metaphors to describe their healthcare problems. They say things like, “It feels like there is an elephant on my chest” or “Every time I clean my nebulizer it’s like I’m losing at the board game Operation.” The hardest part of the design process is to translate this type of metaphorical information into a specific set of needs that can be addressed by a design team.
That translation, done through careful listening and qualitative data analysis, then informs the entire design process. This process often leads to a broadening understanding of the functional requirements of a device or product. Instead of the functional requirements of a device being determined by its ability to respond to physical or chemical symptoms of a disease or injury, a device should only be considered functional if it addresses the complete set of needs expressed by the end users.
This demonstrates that the old mantra “function informs form” must be slightly modified. Function still informs form, but the function is defined by the needs and emotions of the end users, so form follows empathy.
A design process infused with this type of radical empathy leads to the creation of products people will fall in love with. At Worrell, we are committed to a design process focused on making sure every moment a person interacts with one of our designs is a moment that improves the quality of a person’s life.