Design as opportunity in Healthcare ecosystem.
In the healthcare environment and more specifically in the field of medical technologies or medtech, design services are becoming a key driver for innovation. One example is the Barcelona startup New Born Solutions, which has developed a non-invasive device to detect childhood meningitis in three seconds. The company has developed a prototype that when placed on the infants heads determines through ultrasound the concentration of white blood cells, which serves as an indicator of the dangerous infection. The firm plans to bring the product to market in 2020.
“Design has been an essential part in the development of our device,” says Javier Jiménez, Founder and CEO of New Born Solutions: In one hand all the technical development to achieve a reliable device when in contact with the child’s skin, and on the other hand to guarantee a friendly and comfortable user experience for the end users. To face this challenge NBS Barcelona has signed a collaboration agreement with Stimulo design Barcelona, specialising in design and healthcare.
Methodology for design and health projects
To develop its design and health projects, Stimulo uses the following methodology:
- Immersion: Cognitive immersion activities, including interviewing users. “With New Born Solutions, this phase included interviewing pediatricians, pediatric nurses and nursing assistants at Hospital General Granollers,” explains Ramón Martínez. “The goal of this phase is to analyze user experience and put it at the core of the project, compiling their needs, reasons for using it, motivations and frustrations, and taking on board insights that will be key in designing the product.”
- Design: Engineers and/or scientists work on the mechanisms, parts, prototypes and main techniques that will be used to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the product and, separately, the designers begin the iterative process of design proposals integrating user needs, technology and business model. “Prototyping plays a key role in this phase, as it allows us to make the solutions tangible and to test them with users, get feedback and continue working to improve the product,” the Stimulo team highlights.
- Development: At the same time as the Design phase, this process aims to resolve the product technically and prepare it for mass production. “We optimize the technical solutions so that they are cost-effective, ensuring the product complies with all requirements under applicable medical device regulations,” Stimulo explains.
- Implementation: Activities associated with mass production and launching the product, which include promotional materials, packaging, website, dissemination materials, etc.
“Product design is closely tied to the creation process, and it is always gratifying to bring a new product or service to life from scratch,” notes Stimulo designer Ramon Martinez. “In the healthcare sector, knowing that the product you’re designing could save lives or substantially improve the lives of patients/the people who will use it, is undoubtedly the best reward for a designer.”
A project of this scope, requires “a multidisciplinary team with the talent necessary to cover all areas of development, both technical and clinical,” explains Ramon Martinez.
What does a product engineer or designer need to work in the healthcare or medical technology sector? “The medical sector requires designers with a broad range of profiles, who are good at understanding users and creating efficient, effective design solutions,” the Stimulo team explains. “Teamwork and leadership skills are key, as these projects normally involve several teams whose interests are not always aligned.”
“In Stimulo we take on each project as a challenge, an opportunity to apply design methodologies that make decision-making faster, especially in innovative projects that are still in their early stages, such as New Born Solutions,” says Ramon Martínez, CEO & Chief designer of Stimulo.