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3 patient-focused trends in software design for medical devices

person climbing out of phone

Medical software design has grown up, moved out, and left the clinic behind. With the application of new technology, innovative software products are shifting our healthcare experience from the traditional episodic doctor-in-clinic context to one where healthcare is an omnipresent part of our everyday lives. Our healthcare interactions now include a breadth of new experiences like smartphone apps, connected devices, retail interactions, home health delivery kits and telehealth video conferencing. Patients have come to expect that healthcare will meet them in their homes and on their phones. Now, more than ever, software design for medical devices must focus on the patient experience in the context of everyday life.

Diabetes management: weaving medical products into everyday life

Recent innovation in diabetes management is a great example of how the software operating medical products should be designed to fit seamlessly into everyday life. Historically, the care protocol for a Type I or Type II insulin dependent diabetic was intense. It required frequent manual blood glucose monitoring, food and exercise tracking and self-injections of insulin. The daily task list for a patient was time consuming and disruptive. The daily mental load was draining. The consequences of mismanagement are deadly. Companies like Sensyne, Tandem and Glooko have released new products in the last few years that streamline the patient experience and deliver better outcomes.

5 barriers to healthcare innovation — and how to avoid them

Simulating a wearable medical device to test a healthcare app

Medical software that is designed to integrate other health data whenever possible goes a long way to streamline workflows for patients and clinicians. The time and mental energy a patient diverts to data entry can be more potent when it is conserved to focus only on behavior change.

Trend #2 Automation: a ToDo list guarantee

Automation does the work that needs to be done without being asked. There are familiar examples of automation like digital alerts, reminders, and notifications that all work behind the scenes to make life easier. But there are also newer automations like medical supply re-ordering, prescription adjustments or appointment scheduling that execute more complex tasks without human initiation.

Automated tasks not only save time — they also promote patient adherence to their treatment plan, which is a critical indicator in influencing and predicting success of a care protocol. When interviewed, patients often give reasons like “I forgot”, “I didn’t realize” or “it just isn’t part of my regular routine” when asked why they skip important parts of their care plan. Automating a task is a great way to make sure it actually gets done. Any time a task can be defined in terms of a checklist or parameters, there is an opportunity for software to automate it and improve both usability and outcome metrics.

Trend #3 Personalization: a better fit is worn often

A stumbling point for automation is often that a one size fits all approach limits patient experience. Personalization can pick up the slack by applying data about a specific individual to make a custom recommendation. Personalization can make a patient feel seen and understood as an individual as they navigate their care, for example, by providing local resource suggestions, meal plans responsive to dietary restrictions or age appropriate rehab exercises. Just like a tailored outfit, patients routinely reach for a personalized solution because it wears well. Once worn, a solution’s influence on goals like behavior change can be slipped into the jacket pocket.

Personalization can also directly impact better outcomes. Precision medicine companies like Tempus use genetic data and artificial intelligence to help physicians create the care protocol that will be most effective for a specific patient. These personalized care plans have been shown to have better results.

As digital health solutions continue to evolve, these trends will remain in focus as 3 ways to support behavior change and drive health outcomes. Innovation, however, does not stop here. As solutions evolve we will see new and more creative features within these themes that integrate, automate and personalized in ways we cannot even imagine today.

Published by TXI Healthcare in Digital Health