User-centric design is a real passion for the talented team of designers working in medtech innovation here at CC. That’s why it’s particularly pleasing to share the news that we’ve been honoured with a globally prestigious Red Dot Design Award for a holistic wearable medical device concept that puts the underserved needs of Parkinson’s patients at the very core of its design.
This international acclaim is a credit to the multidisciplinary team of colleagues who put their heart and soul into devising, developing and bringing to life an idea that we think has real potential as an aftercare solution for people who are implanted with deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy devices. As a native of Singapore, I was especially excited that the city-state was the venue for the award ceremony. Team member Marshal Wong, an engineer in our Singapore office who worked on the battery technology for the project, collected the trophy on behalf of everyone.
I conceived the idea for the aftercare solution – which we call Sen – after exploring the gap that clearly exists in the market. There is plenty of focus on DSB implants, but less attention is paid to the aftercare that must accompany the therapy. When I pitched my thoughts to Arun Venkat, our Boston-based global head of smart implants, he gave the initiative an enthusiastic green light.
Parkinson’s disease impacts more than 10 million people worldwide. The condition affects motor skills, causing shaking, slow movement and stiffness, and leads to depression and problems with speech, sleep and memory. DBS therapy relieves symptoms but is compromised in several ways: aftercare is burdensome for patients and clinicians; patients feel out of control of their treatment; charging systems can be bulky and indiscreet; and symptoms monitoring is lengthy and inefficient. To make sure the needs of the patients were front and centre, I enlisted the support of Hajni Salazar-Velekey in our human factors department to drive research and interviews – providing insight that was essential to the concept.
Improved continuous Parkinson’s monitoring
With Sen, we set out with a clear ambition to improve on current solutions that are cumbersome and limited – and create a flexible recharge system and improved level of continuous monitoring that could give patients their normal lives back.
The holistic solution features a wearable sensor and charger, adhesive power coil, wrist strap, a docking mat that doubles as a discreet wallet, and an app-based aftercare support system. The wearable tracks characteristic symptoms like tremor, twitch and postural stability, while the app monitors non-motor symptoms such as speech, mood and pain levels. Sen collects real-time data to support clinicians with objective assessment of disease progression.
Our intention is that patients should feel empowered by Sen and reassured emotionally. They can check the performance of their implant, configure stimulation settings, monitor data and refer to past episodes without the burden of remembering them.
Sen would bring breakthrough innovation to post-surgery DBS management by leveraging mature technologies like accelerometers with cutting edge AI to give patients and clinicians profound insights and control. Accurate baselining and assessment is essential for effective management of Parkinson’s. Sen could support better treatment through continuous monitoring and improved data availability. It could also enable more effective inpatient appointments and free clinicians from the time and complexity involved in traditional assessment methods.
Appealing visual design
Another important design consideration, is of course, visual appeal. Patients have to bring such devices into their day-to-day lifestyles. So, rather like a smartphone or a wristwatch, the product must be pleasing to use and have around at all times. Aesthetically, Sen’s iconic design and precious jewel-like sensor is combined with careful use of colour to highlight interaction points and convey brand consistency. For me, the real beauty of the visual design is that it frees the user from the constant feeling of being a patient with a chronic illness. Blending a pleasing product into their lives lessens the medical vibe.
A holistic solution such as Sen demands a wide breadth of expertise. At CC, we’re fortunate to have a diverse array of in-house skills and perspectives to draw on. I was able to collaborate with a team that included electronics and sensing engineers, industrial designers, human factors specialists, usability and user interface experts and graphic designers to name but a few.
Well done and thanks to everyone involved. This latest Red Dot award for CC keeps up our winning streak in that we’ve received a major award of some description for our design work every year since 2015. That’s brilliant. And if we continue to focus on user-centric design that adds value to patients and our wider society, I’ve every reason to believe that this success will continue. Please reach out to me by email if you’d like to discuss any aspect of the topic. It’ll be great to continue the conversation.