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The Changing Face of Medical Device Design

The boundaries between drugs, medical devices, software, and patient data are blurring. Patients expect Amazon-level service in all aspects of their lives; physicians need data from multiple sources to be brought together in one place; and payors seek better real-world outcomes and lighter financial burdens. These trends are converging to make design a CEO-level topic for pharmaceutical and medical-device companies. Without first-in-class design, it is difficult to make a product—and, more important, a patient experience—that stands out in an increasingly crowded market.

McKinsey’s Thomas Nilsson and Benedict Sheppard spoke with three leaders to see how they are using design to tackle these challenges. Steve Eichmann is responsible for design and usability across the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Companies; Henrik Norström is the COO and deputy CEO of Brighter, a mobile health tech company dedicated to innovative design and recently acquired by Cigna; and Sebastian Liedtke has led a digital-design transformation at Roche Diabetes Care for the past four years.

McKinsey: How would you describe today’s medical-device landscape?

Steve Eichmann: Although external pressures are changing market dynamics, quality remains paramount. The decision power that used to lie with surgeons is now shared with hospital executives. In addition to ease of use, clinical efficacy, and safety, they are looking for better outcomes, lower costs, and patient satisfaction. To meet these needs, designers and usability experts are trying to reduce device complexity and variability and improve their reliability, patient outcomes, and overall performance.

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