Usable Research Reports: Introduction

A goal of human-centered design is to create a product that is useful, usable, and desirable. When designing medical devices, it is important to ensure the system can be used safely, effectively, and does not cause harm to the user or patient. 

In order to make these assurances, well-designed usability studies that evaluate a medical device’s critical tasks can identify areas in a design that may lead to harm. However, despite the importance of identifying these problems, true improvement and increased safety is achieved only through clear, actionable reporting.

The issue is that some reports just aren’t very helpful. They may be difficult to understand, only focus on shortcomings, lack constructive feedback, or maybe the next steps aren’t obvious.  Whatever the problem, the results need to provide a clear vision towards success. Otherwise, the study simply won’t be worth the time and money spent on it.  

Writing usable research reports for audiences is a challenge. We find that the secret to generating usable research results does not focus on writing the results themselves, but is being proactive enough to put yourself in the best position to do so. Much of delivering usable results takes place on the front-end, before the study has even occurred. During this blog miniseries, we will demonstrate how usability research results can inform the safe design of medical devices.

In order to view the other parts of this blog mini-series, please follow the links below!

Part 1: Formative vs. Validation

What are formative and validation studies? How do they differ from one another? What are their goals?  How do those topics impact how the results are reported?

Part 2: Using Task Analysis

What is a human factors task analysis? What are its contents?  How do you define critical tasks and task success criteria? How does its quality impact how usable results will be?

Part 3: Usability Studies

How do you collect high-quality data?  How will that impact how usable results will be later in the research process. 

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