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Four different OneTouch blood glucose meters displaying blood sugar readings using various range indicator graphics. From left to right: the first has a numeric display with color-coded dots underneath, the second shows a numeric display with three colour coded ranges, the third includes a text 'In Range' indicator to indicate the three colour coded ranges, and the fourth displays the result, using emoji, and a multi-colored range bar.

The ROI of intuitive diagnostic device development

Published: March 2024

Grant Howarth

Grant Howarth, Interaction Design Consultant

The medtech industry, particularly the medical device sector, is experiencing a wave of rapid transformation and growth. As one of the most innovative fields, it holds the potential to transform global healthcare and fundamentally change how individuals engage with their health. In-vitro diagnostics (IVD) leads the industry with a 13.4% share, with diagnostic imaging and diabetes care among the expected top device areas by sales in 2024.

Amid this expansion, however, it’s important to anchor back to the principle of device design: meeting real human needs effectively. Developing the OneTouch SelectSimple blood glucose meter with LifeScan highlighted a fundamental lesson: the most impactful solutions often emerge from simplicity. By stripping away unnecessary complexity, we aimed to provide users with the essential information they need, thereby reducing overload and improving decision-making.

Keeping it simple

In 2011, we were approached by LifeScan to develop OneTouch SelectSimple, a glucose meter aimed specifically at emerging markets, a very specific challenge in terms of both the user groups and the associated cultural restrictions. It was designed to make fingerstick checks for monitoring blood sugar levels simple and understandable to millions of people with diabetes living in developing countries.

Recognising this with a prestigious Red Dot Design Award, the jury remarked that “the clear design of this blood glucose meter is exemplary. Its use can be grasped intuitively, and the measurement results are easy to understand”.

blood glucose meter in use

OneTouch SelectSimple. Source: Hope Gardens India.

SelectSimple’s introduction of colour-coded feedback for blood glucose readings laid the groundwork for future development. Building on this foundation, we went on to develop OneTouch VerioFlex and introduced the ColorSure technology, using a color-coding system that offers a broader range of colours to represent more nuanced blood glucose levels, using green to reinforce a positive ‘in range’ result.

The latest in the OneTouch range, the VerioReflect, further refined the ColorSure technology by integrating a dynamic range indicator using colours and emojis to add further meaning to an ‘in range’ result. To add more meaning to blood glucose results, VerioReflect also includes contextual feedback, providing real-time messages and motivational feedback alongside the color-coded results, leading to a supportive experience.

Now spanning an entire product family, the range indicator has not only made it easier for users to understand their blood glucose readings, empowering them with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health, but has also become a unique selling point. This places LifeScan ahead of their competition while creating an instantly recognisable brand touchpoint.

Four different OneTouch blood glucose meters displaying blood sugar readings using various range indicator graphics. From left to right: the first has a numeric display with color-coded dots underneath, the second shows a numeric display with three colour coded ranges, the third includes a text 'In Range' indicator to indicate the three colour coded ranges, and the fourth displays the result, using emoji, and a multi-colored range bar.

The range indicator has become part of the recognisable design language for OneTouch products.

Applying the same principles to other diagnostic devices

The same design principles that led to OneTouch SelectSimple’s success—simplicity, user-centric design, and accessibility—are equally valuable in the broader landscape of diagnostic devices. In a world fuelled by data, it would be easy to believe that more information equates to better outcomes. However, too much information can instead quickly lead to overloaded interfaces that detract from the core user experience, especially in healthcare where clarity and formulating actionable responses are extremely important.

Let’s apply the “less is more” approach to other diagnostic devices:

Blood Pressure Monitors:

  • A blood pressure monitor, designed with simplicity in mind, could incorporate visual indicators—such as color-coded displays—for normal, pre-hypertension, and hypertension levels allowing users to instantly understand their blood pressure without interpreting numerical data.

Portable ECG Monitors:

  • A portable ECG monitor redesigned with actionable insights in mind could present only the most critical information, such as heart rhythm irregularities, using clear visual cues or simple messages. This approach would ensure that users, regardless of their medical knowledge, know when everything is ok, or when they should seek further medical advice.

These examples demonstrate that simplifying medical devices can help lead to actionable insights regardless of the diagnostic domain.

This is ever more important, as over the past two decades the diagnostic market has undergone a significant transformation, evolving from a landscape populated with standalone devices to one of interconnected technologies.

Consumer expectations of diagnostic devices have evolved with the emergence of personal activity trackers like Fitbit and Apple Watch, and products like Zoe’s continuous glucose monitors which have taken diagnostic technology into the wider consumer market. In response, medical device companies commonly integrate Bluetooth connectivity into their devices and sync data to proprietary apps. Interestingly, this provides further opportunity to simplify the device use experience by offloading the display of data to a smartphone or tablet with which the user is more familiar.

However, connected behaviour should be carefully considered and designed to reduce the burden of managing and interpreting data from multiple fragmented sources. To avoid this, health applications could interpret and consolidate data from multiple streams and provide users with seamless tracking of health metrics, real-time feedback, and personalised health insights. We should try to avoid a deluge of information and instead provide information as actionable insights. The core principles applied to the design and development of SelectSimple are more relevant than ever.

Future of diagnostic device development

OneTouch SelectSimple’s ongoing success reminds us of our ongoing commitment to innovation, user-centric design, and the improvement of healthcare outcomes on a global scale. As we look to the future of diagnostic devices, and the challenges ahead, we believe that employing design principles that lead to meaningful experiences can further humanise diagnostic data, making healthcare more accessible and actionable for users worldwide.

If you’re developing a diagnostic device and would like to chat with our team, contact us.

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