We help our customers revolutionise therapy through ground-breaking surgical devices, implants and acute care platforms.
In our increasingly complex and connected world, medical devices are part of an ecosystem that includes numerous touchpoints, such as packaging, instructions for use (IFU), digital services and smartphone apps. Each of these touchpoints can have a significant impact on a patient’s experience and their perception of a treatment.
Companies such as Nest, Apple and Dyson have set the bar high in terms of design and brand experience, removing inconsistency to deliver seamless design across multiple touchpoints, and consequently providing a good user experience to their customers. For example, Nest fully integrates physical, digital and print design across all of their products by using consistent colour coded interaction cues across all touchpoints to subtly yet effectively guide users correctly during product setup. The Nest Thermostat seamlessly integrates physical and digital interactions. As the physical dial is turned, the digital display responds intuitively. This not only improves usability, but contributes to desirability, user satisfaction and overall product success.
A consequence of users gaining familiarity with integrated design and brand experience is that they come to expect it from all of their products. For instance, when patients are prescribed a medical product, they are increasingly likely to judge it against their high-end consumer products and expect an equivalent experience.
Unfortunately, many medical products are designed by disconnected development teams with little or no concern for the overall patient experience.
Symptoms of disconnected, disparate design can be seen in inconsistent aesthetics, icons, colours, language, fonts and most worryingly, interaction cues. Anecdotal evidence from testing products with users, indicates that a lack of harmony across product touchpoints leads to disjointed, confused and ultimately, poor patient experiences.
At Cambridge Consultants, design is fully integrated; Designers, Engineers and Human Factors Engineers work collaboratively to deliver a seamless design and brand experience as a key differentiator, growing and strengthen our client’s businesses.
To demonstrate our approach, we developed a fictional drug brand, targeted at patients suffering with a chronic disease affecting their mobility and quality of life. We then translated the brand into a design and user experience specification, to guide the development of a family of injectable devices (a unit-dose syringe, mechanical and electromechanical autoinjector).
Initially, we spoke to several patients to better understand their wants and needs, informing the brand promise, a statement which extols a higher-order emotional reward, creating a strong and meaningful connection with people.
The brand promise developed was ‘calmly delivering a healthy, more active lifestyle’. This aimed to relieve patients’ anxiety about self-injection but also to provide hope that the medication could improve their lifestyle.
Then, the brand promise was divided into the brand attributes that will provide the key principles to inform design and user experience.
‘CALM’, ‘TRUST’ & ‘ACTIVE’ were selected as the key brand attributes.
Next, the brand attributes were translated into design attributes and signature details. Design attributes are constructed from multiple stimuli, which may include form, colour, surface finish, material, weight, typography and tone of voice. The construction of design attributes can be used to communicate a specific message and to create an emotional connection between the patient, product and brand.
Signature elements reinforce brand attributes across all touchpoints and act as a ‘jewel’ for the brand, much like the badge on the front of a car: memorable and indefinable to users.
Having defined and agreed the brand promise, brand and design attributes with a client, integrated teams develop concepts that map the design attributes onto individual touchpoints, creating a unified expression of the brand.
Design concepts are evolved through sketching, 2D renderings and 3D prototypes, responding to technical, commercial and regulatory constraints. Stringent, regular user testing allows patient feedback and informs the evolution of the design.
The name Aalto is derived from the Finnish translation for ‘wave’, which is taken from the CALM brand attribute, harnessing the soothing feeling of being near the sea. This is reflected in the Aalto logo, which uses an abstract, geometric wave form.
Aalto autoinjector family
The Aalto autoinjector family uses robust, geometric forms to evoke a sense of TRUST.
Bold use of midnight blue with a contrasting yellow accent colour and the use of a tactile outer skin portray the ACTIVE brand attribute.
A sense of CALM is depicted in product detailing by using subtle ‘wave’ patterns on areas of the injectors. This indicates where (and how) patients should interact with the devices (twist, push and pull). Superfluous visual stimuli should be avoided, as it may detract from the device’s usability cues.
Aalto packaging experience
The Aalto injector packaging is designed to provide an enhanced ‘unboxing’ experience. When the pack is opened, the injector and instructions for use are presented to the patient simultaneously, reducing confusion and anxiety, and further enforcing the brand attributes of TRUST and CALM.
In addition, brand and design language is embodied within the packaging and label design, through the use of colourways and typography. Not only does this maintain a seamless brand experience across another touchpoint but it also complies with strict regulatory guidelines.
Aalto digital design & physical interactions
Interactive and aesthetic harmony are considered with gesture control across hardware and software.
The electromechanical autoinjector embodies this consideration. As a patient pushes the autoinjector against their skin, the digital interface and software responds to this physical interaction, guiding the user to push with and maintain the correct force.
At Cambridge Consultants our collaborative teams of designers, engineers and human factors specialists tackle challenges like this every day. Through this article and our Aalto case study we hope to demonstrate both the importance and benefits of creating an integrated design and brand experience within the medical field. We have also shown how this can be implemented across multiple levels and touchpoints, avoiding common pitfalls, such as disconnected development teams and a lack of focus on the overall patient experience.
Written by David Robinson, Mitul Lad & Harry Moorman