Medical UI design is being shaped by experiences with consumer electronic devices among physicians, medical staff and even patients. This influence includes screen layout, icons, gesture-based interaction, navigation, responsiveness and connectivity. As such, companies are starting to understand the need to design safe, effective medical devices which mirror the look and feel of commonly used consumer electronic products.
The influence of consumer design on medical devices with a touchscreen is often seen during usability testing. For example, healthcare staff have been observed trying to swipe touchscreens to get to the next screen. Users also tend to search for a battery icon on medical devices similar to icons on their smartphones. These muscle-memory behaviors become automatic and are almost instinctual when dealing with electronic devices, regardless of the type of device being used. It’s even been suggested that companies who specialize in medical device manufacturing should look at users as consumers instead of just patients.
Medical and consumer devices cannot mirror each other 100 percent. Small glitches and bugs that are tolerated with consumer products can have dangerous consequences when occurring within the healthcare field. However, as consumer electronics become an everyday staple in our lives, taking advantage of the prevailing consumer mental models healthcare professionals bring with them can greatly benefit the usefulness of medical devices.