Thursday, March 29, 2007

How to Improve It? Ask Those Who Use It

Citizen product design as a method for creating new products ...

"Dr. Nathaniel Sims, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, has figured out a few ways to help save patients’ lives.

In doing so, he also represents a significant untapped vein of innovation for companies.

Dr. Sims has picked up more than 10 patents for medical devices over his career. He ginned up a way to more easily shuttle around the dozen or more monitors and drug-delivery devices attached to any cardiac patient after surgery, with a device known around the hospital as the “Nat Rack.”

His best innovation to date, he says, involved modifying a drug infusion pump routinely used in hospitals to dispense the proper doses of medicine. Dr. Sims, an accomplished pilot, noticed in the mid-1980s that he could obtain navigation information from regularly updated databases. He wondered why doctors couldn’t use a device preprogrammed with the necessary data to figure out dosages themselves. From 1987 to 1992, he and a small team built an electronic device that worked with an existing pump to provide patients with the correct does of the proper drug. Alaris Medical Systems was the first established medical supply firm to use the technology.

David L. Schlotterbeck, the chief executive of Alaris, bet the company on the device. It was a good wager. The smart pump now brings in $700 million in sales — more than Alaris’s overall revenue of $534 million in 2003, the year before the company was sold to Cardinal Health.

What Dr. Sims did is called user-driven innovation by Eric von Hippel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. Mr. von Hippel is the leading advocate of the value of letting users of products modify them or improve them, because they may come up with changes that manufacturers never considered. He thinks that this could help companies develop products more quickly and inexpensively than with their internal design teams.

“It could drive manufacturers out of the design space,” Mr. von Hippel says."    (Continued via New York Times)    [Usability Resources]

User Influenced Design - Usability, User Interface Design

User Influenced Design

1 Comments:

Anonymous Michael Zuschlag said...

“82 percent of new capabilities for scientific instruments like electron microscopes were developed by users.” Okay, but 0.01% of users actually think of workable new capabilities. The trick is to have a means to sort your way to the right user.

10:59 AM  

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