Siemens Healthineers: Nadja Roth discusses the role of design

Siemens Healthineers: Nadja Roth discusses the role of design

 June 07, 2022

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Good design creates trust

In the annual report of the German Patent and Trademark Office, Siemens Healthineers Product Designer, Nadja Roth, discusses attraction at first glance, friction between design and technology, and the competitive advantage of registered protection. Nadja shares her insights as a member of the jury for the DesignEuropa Award 2021.

As a designer for medical devices, Nadja often meets people who are surprised that design plays a role in medical devices at all. "First and foremost, it is about the function," says Nadja. "But isn't design a part of this very function?"

"What would be a perfectly functioning machinery that is not accepted by the user due to its complex and overwhelming appearance and is so complicated in the application that it simply cannot be operated? Doesn't design make a decisive contribution to making a product usable at all? Doesn't the first glance decide whether we want to take a closer look at a product or not?," she questions.

"I am convinced that design can make a decisive contribution to the success of a product: good design communicates what a product is, how it works and guides the user. It makes a product understandable and approachable. Design creates trust. Design reflects the quality and value of the product and has the power to convey the brand identity of a company and to convey it to the outside world. This applies not only to everyday products from the consumer sector, but also to medical technology products," explains Nadja.

Good design makes it easier to clean medical devices

Siemens Healthineers products and solutions are at the center of clinical decision-making. To tailor its innovations to situations where people are most vulnerable, holistic, human-centered design is key.

"The latter present the design with special challenges: Numerous clinical, functional and safety-relevant requirements must be taken into account in the design and restrict the solution space. This requires a very close and iterative collaboration between design and development, in which both sides gradually approach the optimal state and take into account the needs of both sides equally. This type of cooperation is certainly characterized by friction, but in the end it produces products that meet both technical and design requirements," says Nadja.

"Especially in the field of medical technology, these requirements are joined by another important factor that has increasingly become a design task: The hygienic properties of a product are crucial when it comes to reducing dangerous hospital germs. It is important to create products that offer few opportunities for contamination and can be cleaned well. With the help of deliberate design, targeted surface topologies and clever detail solutions, the design is consistently designed to make it easier for the user to prepare the devices hygienically," she adds.

Nadja explains that medical devices should support the user in the professional execution of demanding tasks.

"Software components in the form of user interfaces are often an integral part of multifunctional product solutions and must be seamlessly integrated into the design. When designing products with extensive hardware and software applications, ergonomics, usability and learnability play a crucial role. Such complex products therefore benefit enormously from a holistic design process that is user-oriented and combines different design disciplines. If industrial designers, interaction designers and user interface designers work in harmony, products can be created that meet all user needs and, in the best case, ensure a positive user experience," she comments.

Where products are technically similar, "soft" factors can decide

Nadja knows that in times when products are becoming more and more technically closer, the "soft" properties and emotional aspects of a product play an increasingly important role. Design and user experience are increasingly becoming differentiating features and offer companies additional opportunities to stand out from the competition.

"This market advantage must be protected. In addition to patents, utility models and trademarks, companies – whether large or small – have the opportunity to protect their designs from imitation with the help of design protection and thus secure a competitive advantage. The prerequisite for this is that the design is new and has its own character," says Nadja.

"As part of the DesignEuropa Awards 2021, as a jury member in an international and interdisciplinary jury, I had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other experts on what makes good design. Together, we have assessed the design quality of products with registered Community designs from a wide variety of industries. The range of products submitted alone shows that design is becoming an increasingly important economic factor – regardless of the industry, size and complexity of the product," she comments.

"In any case, design plays an important role when it comes to combining the diverse requirements placed on a product and translating them into a product that can be experienced. A product that evokes the most positive emotions possible and that we may even take to heart," Nadja concludes.

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