Use beyond usability: integrating user experience design and human factors to improve the usability of a cochlear implant charging system

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Use error is a leading cause of medical device failure, with regulatory guidance now provided for usability and human factors. In the wider design field, usability and user experience are now well recognized as a primary focus of industrial
design practitioners. This article presents a case study detailing the design of two medical devices (battery recharging devices for a cochlear implant system). Discussing and comparing the application of different methodologies from regulatory guidance (from the medical device field) and user experience methodologies (from the design field) to reduce user error. This article positions the concept of use beyond that of just ‘successful use’ and usability, and into the realm of experience. As medical devices become increasingly integrated as part of our daily lives, they are being used by more diverse user groups (not just trained doctors) in more diverse use environments (homes and workplaces; not just hospitals and clinics) through more complex interfaces (touch, voice, gesture, automation and AI). The diversity of these contexts complicates designing for use. This article explores how experience design can augment and enhance human factors design approaches. Enabling medical devices to be designed for more flexible user experiences that reduce error and enhance use.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalDesign for Health
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • use error
  • medical devices
  • experience design
  • human factors
  • usability

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