Designing for safety and usability: user-centered techniques in medical device design practice

in Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Journal article


The design of systems affects the likelihood and nature of errors that people might make with them, and the ease of error recovery. If developers are to design systems that are less prone to errors propagating, they need to consider the users and user contexts. There are many techniques and resources available to support developers in this. In this paper we report on an interview study involving professionals from major manufacturers of medical devices, to better understand their development practices and the external forces that shape those practices. This identified barriers to user-centered design and corresponding opportunities for support. Results are divided into four themes. These are: collaborative working practices; understanding the user and their situation; providing adequate justification for the adoption of a user-centered approach; and the provision of clear guidance and support. Our findings highlight the importance of ensuring that techniques are adequately justified, applied at the correct time, aligned with the development lifecycle and easy to adopt.