Capturing the requirements of users and incorporating these into a design of medical devices is an essential component of IDR Medical’s portfolio.  This helps our clients develop products that are better aligned to customer requirements and identify any issues earlier on in the process.  Below is a summary of Human Factors Research methodologies IDR Medical uses to enhance the design of new medical technologies and solutions:

Contextual Observation 

Here the researcher shadows the user as they interact with an existing device or complete a series of tasks.  The “user” could be anyone from a patient administering a self-injection of insulin to a respiratory therapist setting up a critical care ventilator in an ICU.  The interviewer’s role is to elicit information by asking a series of questions about what is happening, why it’s happening, and their opinions on how things could be improved.  Contextual Observation ensures that the industrial design team and the user work together to discover important information that may be implicit in the user’s mind but may otherwise remain undiscovered.  This approach to the Human Factors Research is typically used early in the product development process, before a prototype is developed.

Task Analysis

Task analysis within the Human Factors Research is a very useful approach which can be utilised throughout the product development process and can help identify problems and solutions to support an iterative design process.  Task analysis is particularly relevant when the device in question is relatively complex or supports a workflow of activity.  IDR Medical often utilize this approach during the evaluation of a digital user interface or touch screen.

The technique involves breaking down the customer interaction with the technology into a series of specific tasks and individual actions that a user has to perform. This analysis is typically based around the use of prototypes.

Usability Testing / Usability Labs

The objective of usability research is to systematically observe people using a product to discover any issues and areas of improvement.

To assess the usability of a technology under this Human Factors Research approach, researchers firstly have to determine usability goals against which the device is assessed. Usability labs are typically conducted to test and refine the design of new product concepts, and they are often performed throughout the product development process.  Research can be performed either in a customized lab to simulate the users working environment or in field and typically involves a working prototype.

Expert Heuristic Evaluation

Prior to conducting extensive research with user populations, it is often useful to consult new product design with expert human factors professionals.  IDR Medical work with a network of external HFE advisors that provide specialist input on a range of design factors.  This expert evaluation typically identifies obvious problems, supplies workarounds, and proposes any points of concern that can be explored more fully during customer focused usability research.  This technique is often conducted early in the product development process to identify and resolve initial problems prior to extensive testing with users on prototypes.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you manage your new product introduction or learn about our complete portfolio of services (not only about Human Factors Research), please contact:

North America

Timothy Hertweck, Vice President, IDR Medical Boston, USA:  Phone: 617.275.4465


Robert Stoesser, Managing Consultant, IDR Medical Basel, Switzerland:

IDR Medical provide services that integrate market research, business analysis and strategic problem solving. Our projects span the product lifecycle from idea generation and concept development to market testing, pricing, and commercialization through to portfolio management.