Getting a grip can be difficult for patients with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Yet, when we examined biologic administration devices, it seemed that an ordinary bike handle had a leg up in terms of ergonomic design. How are patients supposed to administer their medicine when they struggle to grasp their injection device? A design team looked into the ergonomics.
Getting a handle on grip
Our hands are marvelous. More than a quarter of our bones are located within our hands. A complex and coordinated symphony of muscles, tendons, and ligaments all work together to perform the smallest of tasks. Dexterity gave our human ancestors the ability to adapt their grip to small tools and helped separate them from other primate species. Each intricate detail of their grip mechanics continued evolving for hundreds of thousands of years, honing grasping skills over generations.
Yet today, innovations in ergonomic design are allowing us to adapt tools to our hands, rather than the other way around.
Form follows function
Our quest to update how patients administer biologics led us to ask, “How does shape influence use? If a bike handle is designed to fit every contour of the user's hand, shouldn't medical administration devices be put under the same level of scrutiny?” We collaborated with designers to find opportunities to address the current challenges of injecting. Together, we started by gathering everyday objects to analyze grip and dexterity issues potentially important to injecting.
Self-injecting isn’t always as simple as it sounds, especially for patients with rheumatic conditions. Injecting is aided by a stable grip and consistent downward force, all while maintaining the dexterity required to press and activate the injection.
Analogues were narrowed using guiding principles
Grip should support one-handed use
Some biologic injection devices require two hands to inject, with one hand needed to pinch or stretch the skin. From the beginning, giving patients back a free hand was a priority. Designs requiring two hands weren't considered.
Handle should support a downward or inward force
Self-injecting required patients to point their device either down toward their thigh or back toward their abdomen. Grips that direct action away from the body weren't considered.
Shape should help create a stable base with a fixed point of contact
Holding the autoinjector in place is vital to supporting a consistent and uninterrupted injection. Analogues lacking stability were ruled out.
Five designs made the cut
Using inspiration from our analyses, we assembled 5 rough models to explore during research sessions. Each design addressed a specific aspect of the self-injection mechanics that engineers hoped to advance.
Test, refine, retest
Following the development of rough models, our user research with actual biologic patients was underway.
Models of potential autoinjector designs were molded and used in form factor testing with actual patients
Testing with more than 30 biologic patients helped designers further refine the shape of what would become the final autoinjector.
This site is intended for healthcare professionals only. If you are not a healthcare professional, please contact your doctor about ENBREL.
A truly ergonomic way to inject ENBREL—Enbrel Mini®Enbrel Mini® single-dose prefilled cartridge with AutoTouch®AutoTouch® reusable autoinjector
- Upper lip serves as a hand stopper
- Minimized flange for button access
- Reduced midsection for secure grip
- Bottom edge supports downward force