NEXT Medical Design Deep Dive 2019 Recap


The healthcare ecosystem is transitioning from an industry based around singular instruments and cotton swabs to a formidable intersection of advanced electronics and increasingly smart technologies. Surgical theaters are now state-of-the-future environments where the doctors may soon be superseded by the technologies advancing the practice.

Amid all this, how do we keep people at the core of everything we do, and how do we navigate the blurring boundaries between the hospital, clinic, home, mobile treatment and monitoring? What matters most and what do designers need to know in order to meet these new challenges? 

On Oct. 9, 2019, over 80 design practitioners and medical professionals assembled on the campus of  Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA for the NEXT Medical Design Deep Dive, a day-long event centered on how the role of design and the industrial designer is evolving to keep pace with the rapid changes in healthcare. This intimate gathering proved to be an immense learning and knowledge exchange opportunity for those in attendance.

The day’s content, carefully curated by members of IDSA’s Medical Design Special Interest Section (Sean Hagen, IDSA, Kelly Umstead, IDSA and Bryce Rutter, PhD, IDSA) included a balanced mixture of presentations, panel discussions and interactive workshops. Bryce Rutter (Metaphase Design Group) served as the day’s Emcee. 

The keynote address was delivered by Dean Kamen, an innovator and gamechanger who needed little introduction. His work over the past two decades has transformed industries that range from water purification to personal mobility. On this day, Kamen provided an in-depth look at DEKA Research and Development’s work in the area of advanced-movement prosthesis for upper-limb amputees. 

Through years of trial and error, the DEKA team was able to envision and realize a wearable arm prosthesis that is capable of all the movement of “the original equipment,” as Dean referred to the limbs these device users were born with. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) Arm is a device capable of three different configurations, depending on use, and can be controlled via multiple input options. This means that the user can now regain near-native functionality of their shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Most importantly though, this robotic limb helps return a sense of confidence and normality to daily life. 

By the day's end, NEXT participants had explored a vast range of topics, including:

  • The nuance (and responsibility) of AI for UI
  • The importance of story in both concept development and patient outcomes
  • The ethical imperatives and needs propelling designers to expand the concept of healthcare into new markets and populations
  • The increasing role of device design in coordinated care
  • The significance of collaboration between clinicians, health care workers, health care designers and other stakeholders to solve some of the biggest issues in healthcare
  • Embodied Health Experience and Ecosystems - Watch this presentation by Chris Lawer, Umio

See the complete speaker lineup here

See more photos here



In-Situation Laboratory Workshops

On Oct. 10 and 11, IDSA hosted a series of interactive and experience-based professional development courses at the Boston Children's Hospital Simulation Center. These sessions provided an in-depth learning opportunity for participants wishing to improve their skill sets and advance their professional abilities. 

Sean Hägen (BlackHägen Design) led a two-part comprehensive course on how to plan, execute, analyze, translate and synthesize Contextual Inquiry (CI) methodologies applied to the healthcare ecosystem. The FDA and IEC have recognized the inherent value of CI as an integral part of developing medical devices, and successful user experiences have benefited greatly from this approach. Therefore, these methodologies are key components during the generative concept and feasibility phases of a project.

Amrish Chourasia and Michael Hammond (Delve) facilitated a half-day workshop that focused on building empathy for the FDA’s expectations, as well as understanding the perspective of the Human Factors Engineer and the role of the Industrial Designer in Formative studies. After a presentation and discussion of theory, process and best practices in a classroom setting, participants had the opportunity to practice their newly-learned skills by participating in two types of Formatives: one conducted in the Sim Lab and another conducted in a lower-fidelity environment. 

Finally, Yael Alkalay (formerly of IBM Watson Health) provided participants with new tools to use when innovating with artificial intelligence. This workshop presented actionable methods to use with technical and non-technical team members, and prioritized the creation of thoughtful and human-centered AI solutions in the health domain. 


NEXT Medical Design Deep Dive 2019 is the fifth such event produced by IDSA, and the second Deep Dive of 2019 under the newly established Deep Dive event architecture. Formerly called ‘Niche Conferences,’ Deep Dives are intended to be one to two-day gatherings where design practitioners can share in ID-relevant content that is built around a specific topic. The format could include a mix of speaker presentations, interactive skill-building workshops/activities and off-site experiences. 

IDSA's intent is for these events to be highly agile and adaptive to the professional development needs of our community. The content of Deep Dives will be based on current trends, emergent technologies and ‘in the now’ subject matter. In 2020, we will add a third event, with the possibility of more over time if demand necessitates it.