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As hospitals worldwide continue gearing up for the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worth thinking about how the equipment they use can help.

This question goes beyond top-level functionality. The core purpose of a vital signs monitor, for instance, is to alert hospital staff when action is required to save a patient. But how the monitor is designed, constructed, and operated makes a huge difference in how effective it will be.

Is the monitor constructed to make it easy to properly sanitize? That’s necessary to eliminate the risk of it becoming a vector for disease transmission. Is it ISO certified? That means it can endure the rigorous usage requirements of a healthcare environment without compromising quality of care.

Functionally, it could be the best monitor in the world, but if it’s not ideal for use in a healthcare environment, it’s not really fulfilling its purpose. For example, some (subpar) medical equipment may be designed with deep recesses or even openings into the interior electronics that make it impossible to wash easily with antimicrobial cleansers or chemical solvents.

But let’s go even deeper: is the equipment easy for hospital staff to use?

This is where the rubber meets the road for medical equipment. Getting the mechanics of the machine right is only half the battle; the other half is a design that facilitates harmony between the machine and its user.

This is important even under normal circumstances, but during a pandemic crisis, it’s literally life-or-death. That’s because hospitals need to extend their capacity as much as possible. Every spare bed, every spare machine, every spare minute matters in the lifesaving work our medical care professionals are performing. If the equipment they use slow them down, it will compromise quality of care and worsen patient outcomes.

So, beyond the raw function, it’s necessary to ask some deeper questions about the equipment:

  • Is the human-machine interface (HMI) unnecessarily complicated?
  • Does the machine slow workers because they have to take time to figure out or remember how to use it?
  • Do users have to stop what they’re doing to search for the information they need, because outputs aren’t clearly communicated?
  • Are users forced to double-check inputs, or otherwise interrupt their workflow, because the machine doesn’t provide adequate feedback when they enter information?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” it may be time to re-think the medical equipment’s design and construction because it can do better. The good news is that medical equipment can combine both mechanical and design elements into a single package that can reliably facilitate successful outcomes for patients and care providers. It just requires design and mechanical engineers to work together in a seamless design and development process.

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Critical components for high-quality medical equipment is a specialty at Hoffmann + Krippner, where machine design and mechanics are given equal emphasis . For more information about Hoffmann + Krippner’s COVID-19 preparations and our production capabilities, read our most recent statement and follow news as it updates here. For more information or for answers to specific questions, contact us here.