Connected medical devices can transform patient adherence

Cameron Baker, PDD Engineering Design Principal, on how connected medical devices can transform patient adherence & improve their healthcare experience

There have been significant advancements in medical technology within the past 10 years, particularly in the realm of smart devices and connectivity. In 2011, the UK medical device market was valued at US$8.5bn, but now has a projected market volume of $17.52bn in 2023

While there has been considerable progress around the integration of connective technology, it is crucial for designers and healthcare companies to develop effective strategies to engage patients and motivate them to adhere to their treatment plans in order to achieve the best outcomes. 

But how can this be achieved? 
 

Enhancing care programmes through user understanding and personalisation

In order to create more impactful experiences that promote patient adherence, healthcare companies must cultivate a deeper understanding and empathy for the patients they serve. This can be accomplished through adopting Human-Centred Design (HCD) methods, and the best place to start is by understanding the reasons behind patients' non-adherence to treatment. Next, it is best to explore questions such as “What tasks are involved in administering the therapy? How do patients emotionally experience these tasks, and where do they encounter challenges?” By analysing these insights, a clearer picture of how these can create valuable opportunities for improvement can be formed.

Once the root of the issue is brought to the surface, healthcare providers can develop customised treatments that effectively address the unique needs of each individual. Personalising medical devices can offer patients an improved approach to managing their condition. By understanding the individual's lifestyle and adapting to it rather than conflicting with it, this ecosystem empowers patients to effectively navigate and independently manage their condition.

Cameron Baker, Engineering Design Principal, PDD

Cameron Baker, Engineering Design Principal, PDD

Streamlining therapy management

Medical therapy can be a challenging process, but with the aid of technology, it can become simpler. For example, the automation of tasks like refill requests, repeat prescriptions, and medication reminders can alleviate the burden on patients, enabling them to concentrate on other facets of their condition and also give all-important time back to healthcare professionals

Moreover, as connected devices can also collect real-time data for remote patient monitoring, this can help with highlighting medication issues and adherence patterns. This can be useful in the long run, as continuous monitoring can replace the need to schedule appointments and can flag any concerns that require medical attention in real-time.


Gamification within medical devices

Leveraging gamification within medical devices and treatment can be a great way of captivating users and incentivising them towards desired actions. An engaged patient is more likely to persevere with their therapy because they possess a deeper understanding of their condition and are more connected with the process and the end goal. They can also feel more empowered to make informed decisions, and actively participate in their own care. By implementing features such as point systems, rewards, and attainable objectives that break down complex tasks into manageable steps, gamification fosters user engagement and helps sustain motivation as they track their progress.


The future of healthcare connectivity

Although connectivity has made significant advancements in the healthcare industry, the crucial aspect lies in designing these connected systems with a patient-centric approach to ensure therapies and treatment are adhered to on a long-term basis. This includes prioritising the patient's journey and therapy experience just as much as the technical considerations.

By placing patients, medical professionals, and caregivers at the core of the treatment journey and by simplifying, gamifying, and personalising their experiences, it is possible to positively influence behaviours and encourage better adherence to therapies.

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