Originally published on Designit
With help from Designit and Hotswap, VoluSense has created an entirely new monitoring system to revolutionise newborn care for patients, parents and medical professionals alike.
Despite advances in the management and care of newborns, respiratory disease remains a primary cause of mortality. This especially applies to premature babies whose lungs are not fully developed. The most common monitoring systems are invasive, creating discomfort and distress in a user group that requires the most gentle and comprehensive level of medical care. For risk-balancing reasons, such systems are used sparingly: concerns about procedural harm frequently outweigh the strong clinical need for better information on lung health regarding these patients.
Having developed an entirely new method to measure lung function, VoluSense teamed up with Designit to improve the user experience of the procedure. The technically innovative and complex device should be easy to use, reassuring to look at, and gentle towards patients. Designit offered a holistic approach to the project, exploring the various touch-points for all parties involved – patients, parents, nurses, and doctors.
Embracing user needs
The design team focused their attention on improving the usability and aesthetics of VoluSense’s first functional prototype. Hospital observations and key stakeholder interviews infused the project with insights into how and where the device was to be used. While VoluSense’s technology revolutionised the breathing assessment procedure, the perception of the procedure for parents and intensive care staff was found to be just as important. The new solution had to impart a sense of professionalism, safety, and friendliness.The joint project identified a set of needs to be integrated into the final design. Procedural efficiency and key data points were emphasised at the bedside, while a separate software package allows advanced analytics.
A revolutionary new device
Inspiration for the look and feel of the product was taken from consumer medical devices. Soft, clean lines and an unobtrusive size make for a friendly, reassuring looking device, reducing anxiety for parents in a stressful situation. An accessible user interface allows nurses to easily monitor lung function in real time. Patient vests are gentle to the patient, intuitive to use and colour coded for size. Soft, elastic and hypoallergenic material make the vest as comfortable as possible for the baby, while also being cost-effective for one-time use.
An industry-changing product
Having been approved by EU regulators, the device is generating demand in a steadily growing number of countries, even before marketing. The product has sparked interest for scientific research, clinical use and amongst parties interested in marketing alliances. The product was nominated as a ‘Product of Outstanding Interest’ at the European Respiratory Society congress, the biggest European conference on lung health, and was presented with the Award For Design Excellence by the Norwegian Design Council.