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Are there special considerations for designing medical products for the layperson?

The answer is both no and yes. It is widely believed that good design transcends the need for specialized knowledge – the product itself should demonstrate what it is capable of by utilizing its user’s intuition. On the other hand, intuition, the ability to understand something immediately without conscious reasoning, can differ depending on individual experience. What might be “intuitive” to a professional, someone with relevant specialized training, may not be for the layperson. This means that designing to appeal to intuition can be all but intuitive for the designer. 

As a designer, how do you figure out what is and is not intuitive? What assumptions can be safely made when designing something as vital as a medical device? That is where the principles of human factors come into play, the study and practice of understanding how people interact with the physical world to optimize product design. As human factors professionals we work with a set of guiding principles to establish patterns of behavior and value getting a product in front of the right people, its intended users, as early as possible. We make it our goal to establish what assumptions may already be baked into the design, and whether they need to be reevaluated. This helps to create better, safer products that people enjoy using. 

During this short webinar we would like to introduce you to these guiding principles and discuss how we implement – and evaluate – their use during every phase of development. 

What we will be discussing:

  • Reasons that medical devices intended for laypeople are on the rise
  • Design considerations for medical devices intended for laypeople
  • How the principles of human factors can be implemented at every phase of development and design


Bryant Foster | Vice President of Human Factors | Research Collective

Bryant has performed human factors research for more than 75 medical devices including surgical instruments, point-of-care devices, diagnostics, combination products, implants, home-use devices, OTC products, and more. Bryant co-authored Humanizing Healthcare – Human Factors for Medical Device Design, the most comprehensive text on human factors principles, guidelines, and design methods for medical device design. Bryant is an active member of the Human Factors Engineering committee within the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) and also teaches a Human Factors and Design Controls course for the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS). He is a member of the Healthcare and Product Design technical groups within the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), he regularly speaks at the annual HFES meeting as well as the HFES Healthcare Symposium, and has written articles about human factors, usability, and human-centered design for several periodicals. Bryant received his Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology (Human Factors) from Arizona State University.

Maya Gonczi | Human Factors Researcher | Research Collective

Maya serves as a Human Factors researcher at Research Collective, a Human Factors and User Experience research and design consultancy firm in Tempe, Arizona. Maya has an academic background in anthropology and cognitive psychology (New College of Florida and Columbia University in New York) as well as clinical medicine (Saint James School of Medicine) and early career experience in management within the service industry. Her combined background has provided the tools for the transition into research and the ability to focus on her passion for applying user-centered design principles to medical device evaluations. She has comprehensive experience in consumer research, task analysis, usability testing, and user experience design.

On-Demand Video

Webinar Resources

Designing Medical Devices for the Lay User