415 million people worldwide have diabetes, the cause of five million deaths each year. With no available cure, daily self-management is the only option and accurate blood glucose monitoring is at the very heart of this. While technology continues to advance, the cognitive ability of patients (many of them older people) remains a key challenge. The first-time user experience is a key issue for patients and healthcare providers alike, with many devices over-reliant on intensive nurse-led training.
"For my patients who require insulin, the steps involved in the self-care of their diabetes can be complicated and overwhelming."
Diabetes Nurse, San Francisco
In a market where the vast majority of end users do not have freedom of choice over the product that they use, design and user experience have traditionally been low on the list of priorities. However, there is now a growing awareness in the medical device sector of the importance of UX for both patients and healthcare providers alike.
Patient engagement is seen as a key factor in securing positive health outcomes, and ease of use has a major bearing on this. From the healthcare professional’s perspective, medical devices need to be easy to train and easy to use in order to streamline clinical visits and to ensure that the focus remains on the patient’s health, and not on device complexity.
"Honestly, time for training is a luxury I don’t have. It needs to be more intuitive out of the box."
Diabetes Nurse, New York City
Our Contributions and Activities
Frontend.com worked with Roche to implement a UX design-led strategy across all of their Accu-Chek blood glucose meter products. We conducted a global research initiative to understand the needs of patients and nurses. In particular we focused on training methods and first-time use issues in both the clinical and home use contexts. We conducted research in the Accu-Chek call-centres to improve patient support tasks. We strongly believe in the power of user data, so we designed test protocols to gather empirical metrics from all aspects of training (from both nurses and patients) using both Accu-Chek and competitor products.
Our design team conceptualised alternative solutions including revised packaging, a streamlined set-up process, clearer instructions for use, and more effective labelling and manuals. We repeated our tests with the revised designs, validating where they worked and highlighting areas for further improvement. As always our goal was to improve user experience and reduce the risk of error.
Diabetes nurses were identified as the key decision makers in the market and the revised design was streamlined to meet their needs. It reduced setup time by 50% and greatly reduced the amount of training needed. It also cut the cost and weight of packaging materials as well as customer support costs.
In addition we created digital training videos to support patients at home where they most often experience first-time use problems. Available online, this valuable resource has been released in 110 country markets in 42 different languages and is being used by millions of patients around the world – making Accu-Chek one of the most user-focused medical devices on the market.
The UX strategy that we implemented in Roche has had an important impact on the training experience, first-time use and support of all Accu-Chek users, empowering them to manage their treatment more effectively and providing more positive health outcomes in the longer term.
Awards and Recognition
An international jury awarded the Accu-Chek out-of-box experience an IX Award in 2012. Our Accu-Chek work was included in the 2016 Global Irish Design Challenge Exhibition in Dublin, a platform for Irish international design innovation.
"As we switch to a more service-oriented ecosystem, interaction design must extend its reach beyond the screen, beyond interactive media, and digital information. One of the most interesting submissions was a set of printed instructions for a personal medical device that was beautifully designed and thoroughly tested with end users."
Robert Fabricant, Vice President of Frog Design, and IxDA Jury Chairman