The long term goal of the proposed activities is to develop a comprehensive medical device design training program with clinical immersion as a cornerstone of this training. Clinical immersion will provide design engineers with a variety of perspectives and better prepares them to understand clinical problems to develop novel, innovative solutions. Environments like the University of Utah are uniquely suited to educate, develop and translate the needs of the clinic into market-ready solutions. Currently, the Department of Bioengineering offers a year-long, undergraduate medical device design program (Utah bioDesign). Utah bioDesign partners student design teams with clinician inspired ideas to develop and prototype medical products. Although the students benefit tremendously from their clinician mentor, they lack in-depth clinical experience and a perspective that considers the patient for design input. The plan that we outline in this proposal partners various resources at the University of Utah including the Bioengineering bioDesign program, Honors Think Tank and the School of Medicine to develop an empathetic, clinically centered experience for the engineering and design students. Our program goals will be accomplished through three specific aims. In the first aim we will combine a portion of the bioDesign program with the Honors Think Tank program. The current bioDesign program focuses on medical device design within the regulatory framework of the FDA and the Think Tank focuses on empathetic innovation in healthcare through design thinking. Cross cultivating ideas across these programs will expose students to a variety of design perspectives that extend past disciplinary boundaries. In the second aim we will develop a summer clinical immersion program as a training tool for empathetic innovation and user needs assessment. Students will participate in clinical rotations to observe the clinical environment, interview patients and their families, and meet with clinicians and medical students to understand medical products from a different perspective. In the third specific aim, clinical immersion participants will act as team consultants for bioDesign and Honors Think Tank courses and provide each team with a unique, multiple perspective consultancy experience to incorporate into their designs. Through these aims, we plan to combine portions of bioDesign and Honors Think Tank classes to expose engineering students to empathetic design thinking and the patient perspective, and non-engineering students to regulatory mandates. An inclusive perspective that results from a combination of multidisciplinary collaboration and clinical immersion helps to build a foundation of knowledge and experience that is required for new innovations in the health care industry. The proposed clinical immersion program will provide student teams an opportunity to refine their medical device designs and concepts based upon new perspectives. In addition to refining their design inputs, students will develop new ideas based upon clinical observation and experiences during the second half of the immersion experience. These ideas will then be developed by future bioDesign classes, refined through clinical immersion, and fed into the ideation engine at the University of Utah. By allowing students to actively observe clinical environments and communicate with patients and clinicians, we hope to provide an educational experience not only from a technological and regulatory perspective, but also a human centered design perspective. This full bodied educational experience will train a new generation of professionals capable of working in a multidisciplinary team identifying and translating real world problems into patient-centered solutions within the regulatory framework of the FDA.
Medical device innovation can be accelerated by better understanding patient needs and immersing designers into the clinical environment. We will utilize resources at the University of Utah to create a clinical immersion experience for both engineers and non-engineers and train teams of designers to develop cost effective and marketable solutions to improve healthcare.