Consistency is a never-ending goal in the field of medical device development, where it is a legal necessity that manufacturers create efficient, reliable products that guarantee patient safety. Innovation, on the other hand, can be harder to achieve.

In today’s landscape, stringent regulations, tight budgets and the need to quickly bring products to market can make it harder to create novel product designs.

To overcome these issues, manufacturers are outsourcing projects to smaller out-of-house design companies that can provide in-depth market research, clinical testing and regulatory nous to help bring niche products to market at a faster rate.

Bringing a human-centred approach to design thinking, along with 40 years of industry experience, Erdmann Design provides in-depth consultation services for an array of companies, from start-ups to global trading organisations.

Focusing on core concepts such as cross-industry research, prototyping, certification and marketing, the company has worked on a range of medical devices, from production machines and navigational cameras to advanced surgical equipment.

During the initial research phase, Erdmann assists with the creation of prototypes, using early models to tweak and resolve problems with design structure. Meanwhile, the company’s strong alliances with technology experts and industrial designers can help streamline the development process.

Continually striving to inject a humancentred approach into product creation, Erdmann starts every planning process by focusing on the specific demands people face in professional settings, and exploring these in minute detail.

Every step of the research process is therefore a problem-solving exercise; an opportunity to gather detailed feedback from doctors and surgeons on the difficulties they face to better inform the look, feel and structure of these products.

A driving philosophy

This philosophy was a driving force behind a recent collaboration with Swiss company This, to implement the design and branding for SOPHI, a batterypowered phacoemulsification system used for cataract surgery.

Unveiled at the Annual Congress of the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons in 2018, the device was created by mapping out each step of the medical procedure in intricate detail with the primary goal being to enhance anterior chamber stability during surgery.

As a result, unnecessary features such as obstructive wiring were removed and an easy-to-use interface and a wireless operating system were installed to enhance surgical efficiency.

Equipped with a range of features and accessories, such as fast and responsive fluid pumps and an integrated air compressor, SOPHI has an automatic cassette slot-in-model specifically designed to prevent the surgeons from being contaminated by non-sterile devices while inserting clean tools into the cassette.

Other collaborations include a partnership with Stryker Group to design and prototype a cordless hand-operated tool for minimally invasive surgery, and rebranding Chinese textile company Fong’s Group after it merged with Swiss fabric company Xorella.

More recently, the company has turned its focus away from the operating theatre to home pharmaceuticals, partnering with Janssen pharmaceutical group to address the problem of patient compliance with self-administered therapies. In particular, the fact that an estimated 50% of patients do not stick to the precise dosages and intervals prescribed by practitioners.

Tasked with creating a design model for a take-home injection system, Erdmann conducted detailed demographic research, building a prototype to address problems with drug consumption, such as needle phobia, labelling and miscommunication issues.

By integrating evidence of patient habits with sound design principles, the company successfully created a model for a self-administered manual injector; a device that has since been adapted in-house for Janssen’s next line of patientoriented products.

A recipient of 50 awards in the last four decades for its human-centred designs, Erdmann will continue to collaborate with manufacturers and help companies to create the next generation of medical devices, enabling doctors and surgeons to better perform diagnostics and delicate surgeries, and patients to administer therapies from the comfort of their home.