Medical Device Design

anybody on these threads doing ID in the medical field? If so, what type of and in what capacity> just curious about activity.

Yes, managing a new and growing discipline within Cardinal Health. A holistic user-centered practice that includes Design Research, Strategic Planning, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Human Factors etc.

Specific product categories include Infusion Systems (Alaris) and Medication dispensing (Pyxis.) We have specific interest in medication safety, since over 770,000 patients are injured each year as a result of preventable Medication Error. That’s more than auto accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.

I got crap for leaving Motorola, but I can’t think of a more worthy field for design.

Did some stuff back in the day for Zymark (lab pipetting robotics), Organon (more pipetting lab testers), BD (Lasik stuff and scalples), and some projects for Haemonetics (blood centerfuges) and Lumiscope (blood presure monitors).

If you got any questions, I might be able to jog my memory a bit.

I manage a small design team doing blood glucose monitoring products for the Diabetes market. Medical is a great field because the value the end user gets out of the product and the size of the market. The only downsides are the immense regulatory hurdles and the fairly slow time to market. Otherwise it is a great way to work on Hardware, UI’s, Companion software, etc.

but how do you get into the industry for medical products?
i imagine myself eventually getting into the field of medical product design.
solely for the great end user value.

is the industry for medical product design very small and hard to get into?

thank you for the replys,

I’m curious because i too work in the field, doing in house ID for patient monitoring.

I am interested in finding out more about how your specific roles are situated within your company.

I am the sole ID resource for the company, which is organized on the standard stage gate and core team project system. I’m interested in growing my role, but for now I’m only seen as an ‘extended’ team member on projects where only ‘core’ team members are key decision makers. Since I’m on many projects, my work load seems to fit with this positioning as I can not be a key contributor to all projects, but I find myself outgunned politically. Any thoughts?


I understand what you mean, for a few years I was the ID resource with an engineering consultancy. As such had vlittle strategic input or influence on the project.
However, more recently, I’ve been part of of a startup product development firm focused only on medical ( As such my role is much more of a progam manager/client interface. Here I’ve been able to have significant positive influence on projects and been able, through my position on the team, to bring more of the ‘ID value’ to the projects.
However, it took a few years of learning about the detailed engineering, anatomy, and biology of medical devices before I stoped sounding like a novice to my clients, who tend to be highly specialized in their respective fields.
Medical an interesting place to be, very satisfying and it’s always fun to work with real smart people.

that’s awesome…
the twister? sciclone? rapid plate? rapid trace?

First, you need to sell the case to Sr. Management that Design must be treated as a discipline, and not an ad-hoc service in order to practice Integrated New Product Development. (For details on iNPD get “Creating Breakthrough Products” by Cagen & Vogel.) If your organization is having troubles or is disfunctional, this should be viewed as an obvious “fix.”

If Sr. Management consists of engineers then you have a good shot if you make a clear cause-effect case. They care about making the process efficient and logical.

If Sr. Management consists of marketers, then you need to appeal to their interests: branding, differentiation, experience.

Second, you must make the case that design sit on every Core team as a functional discipline.

Third, you must work with Quality to change your companies official product development process to make note of the change. (In Medical, if it’s not documented, it doesn’t happen.)

In order for all this to happen, the highest levels of the organization must buy into the benefits of this change. The pains felt by the organization by not having design on the core teams will get you new hires to grow the discipline.

Yeah, I assisted on the rapid plate, sciclone and twister. Most of the heavy lifing was done by the two senior designers on the project, Karl Vanderbeek and Patrick Thrailkill. They just had a great ability at nailing the medical stuff through all of the constaints. It was fun to work on.

Agree completely with cg. Most of these situations need more leadership.

CG, thanks very much, I appreaciate your comments-

I have speculated on what you confirmed in your post-
Especially with making amendments to the PDP. There is a blindspot now, and marketing is trying to fill it by bringing in the ‘big boys’ that charge lots of money, all of which is not in my control. the problem is the episodic nature of that effort…It will take some time…

Have you looked at other patient monitoring companies like Datascope, Datex-Ohmeda, Marquette (now GE), or Spacelabs? I’ve had some experience in i.d. dealing with patient monitors, it’s a very exciting field with a lot of growth potential.

The ‘big boys’ are good and useful to you–but you need to be managing their work WITH marketing. Lesson: become good friends with marketing. Show them how you can cure their ills and they’ll befriend you.

I got crap for leaving Motorola, but I can’t think of a more worthy field for design.

Hey CG, is it true that Motorola still makes landmines? All I know is one of my teachers was talking about it last year when I was in school.
If it is true then thank you for designing for life instead of death.

I never heard that, but just Googled it and found it to be sort-of true–a Motorola part was being used in land-mine production:,1283,3334,00.html

Luckily they were “horrified” to learn of this and stopped selling the part.

“It’s very unusual for defense contractors and civilian corporations to involve themselves in voluntarily renouncing a technology that’s not been banned yet,” said Andrew Cooper, author of a Human Rights Watch report identifying companies involved in the production of land-mine components. “But Motorola, to its credit, said we’re not going to wait for the government, these weapons are an abomination and we won’t be part of making them.”