Syringes have continued to evolve over the centuries. Once an experimental surgical procedure, injections are now routinely performed at home by patients. So, we asked ourselves how today’s technology might help change the patient injection process.
How Injections are Evolving
A closer look at the injectors of old
Invented in 1853, the first hypodermic syringe was made almost entirely of steel and bore an intimidatingly large needle. While the materials have changed, and the engineering has improved over the years, the fundamental mechanics of subcutaneous injection have remained essentially the same.
First used in 1853
Nowadays, several medical conditions are treated with self-injected therapies. Yet, syringes were originally designed for administration by healthcare professionals. We thought about how this might impact our patients.
We sought to positively change the patient injection process for self-administration.
We set out to change the way biologic patients inject
To us, that meant taking a fresh look at the patient injection process. We wanted to develop a patient-centric device that utilized modern technology to help patients with their self-injection process.
To do that, we not only reevaluated how patients inject, but also considered how humans interact with technology today.
21st century ideation
Our relationship with today’s tech is almost entirely unrecognizable from two decades prior
We’ve come to expect things from our devices, and not just our smartphones. Even our thermostats and door locks are sending us live alerts. We expect our tech to be intelligent and automatic, yet simple and customizable.
For instance, some smart thermostats intelligently adjust the temperature based on our physical presence, yet instantaneously respond to input when we desire a different temperature.
Modern machines seek to find a balance, teetering between complete user control and thoughtful automation. The better the balance, the more we perceive our tech as intuitive.
Intuitive design, at its essence, is all about communication with the user
Simple cues signal when action is needed, and then automate the processes in between. Thoughtful design enables the user and device to coordinate, encouraging consistent and predictable interactions. With minimal exposure to technical complexities, the user is meant to feel in control of the device they’re wielding.
So, how can we apply today’s tech innovations to self injecting?
A Fresh Look at the Injection Process
Creating a modern experience
Our goal to update the injection procedure began with an examination of the patient’s perspective from start to finish. What do they need to know at each step of the process? And how can we create cues that help guide them through the injection process?
Guiding the Biologic Patient
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Cue the lights and sounds of Enbrel Mini® with AutoTouch®
Once the patient is ready to start the injection process, how can we help prompt them to secure their medication cartridge in the device? We took inspiration from the familiar and used previously learned behaviors to help direct user action.
We’ve all come to know the familiar chime our car doors and refrigerators belt out when we’ve left the door open. Similarly, patients inserting their medication cartridge are prompted with a chime to secure the device’s door.
Shedding light on what's next
Once the cartridge is secured, automation is intended to keep patients on track with their injection process. The device automatically detects and identifies the cartridge inserted. Next, we needed to cue the patient to place the device at an appropriate injection site.
So, what does the patient see?
We thought lighting up the injection area could both improve visibility and help direct the user to position the device at the appropriate injection site. So, we included a guiding light at the bottom of the device to help illuminate this part of the process.
Light the injection site
Once the patient positions the device at an approved injection area, how does the device know the patient is ready to inject? We included smart sensors that detect contact with skin. When the patient holds the device on the injection site, the injection is ready to begin.
Press and go
We needed our device to communicate that the injection is ready for initiation. We’re all too aware that green means go and red means stop. And, sure enough, the autoinjector thumb button uses green lights to communicate that the injection is ready to begin, and red lights to signal an error.
At this point, patients can initiate their injection with the touch of a button.
Green means go
In today’s information age, where we track everything from pizza to packages, we knew it would be important to have a clear way to track injection progress as well.
Audible and visual cues signal that the injection is underway. These include chimes and a progress bar that tell the patient how far along they are in the administration of their medication.