Four reasons to engage in usability testing

Usability testing in a market research context can reveal deep insights into user experience and positively influence device design. CMR's Alper Hulusi considers the key benefits of usability testing for medical device manufacturers.

  • Understand usability in an everyday context

To understand usability, it’s critical to gain a deep understanding of how patients and healthcare professionals interact with devices from day to day. At CMR, we carry out a range of appropriate research methods (such as ethnography) to gain this information. For example, users may receive training on the device as they would in a real-life situation, and provide feedback via an interview. We might ask patients to provide a video diary so that usability can be tracked over a longer period and also observe them handling the device in their own environment. We extract the key insights that manufacturers need to improve the user experience and ultimately, the commercial success of the device.

  • Identify unmet and ill-met needs from the user perspective

By getting closer to patients through focus groups and interviews, we can understand what truly drives people to seek out a certain device or to improve their adherence to it. For example, a CGM device may be technically very sophisticated, offering a wealth of potentially life changing data, but if it is bulky or catches on clothes then it may be hard to convince people to make the switch. In the ‘new era’ where patients may choose to self-fund, this is very useful information. For example, we learned that making a device more discrete by making it available in a range of skin tones (as opposed to white) would have a big impact on the likelihood of someone buying it.

  • Improve communication

Getting the product right is of course a priority for manufacturers, but a robust communications strategy is also important. By engaging in market research, manufacturers will gain great insights into their brand that will ultimately improve relationships with customers. For example, patients and HCPs might express their wish for loyalty schemes and more regular product updates along with their preferred methods of communication (e.g. email, website or social media).

  • Inform your marketing strategy

Our last key benefit of usability testing relates to the above point and is imperative for marketing managers.  Market research can help companies understand which of their marketing messages best resonate with patients and healthcare providers and provide invaluable insight to inform communications and collateral. For example, which taglines/statements are the most compelling? Which terms are seen as too technical or too simple? How do similar statements perform in different markets?

In conclusion

Whether we are researching devices, supporting materials or communications, usability testing is a key aspect of product development strategy. No matter what usability methodology is used, the benefits of usability testing are the same: to gain actionable insights that medical device manufacturers can use to improve their product and portfolio offering.

To learn more about how we can help you benefit from usability testing, please just get in touch to discuss your project.