What’s design got to do with it? 

By Michelle Henderson

As a former clinician within the NHS, the intricacies of product design for medical devices was never really at the top of my mind. However, transitioning to my role at  Qufora opened my eyes to the significance of innovative product design in medical devices, particularly in the realm of rectal irrigation. This transformation, in my perspective, exposed the key role that well-crafted design plays in healthcare professionals initiating irrigation with patients, as well as in aiding patients’ independence when using the products outside clinical settings.

At Qufora, our range of products are tailored to suit everyone and their diverse needs. Notably, two of our products, the Qufora Irrisedo MiniGo (2021) and Qufora IrriSedo Flow (2022), received recognition from the prestigious Red Dot Award jury for their exceptional design. The Red Dot Award is an esteemed award celebrating products that symbolise exceptional and innovative design – global brands such as Apple and Dyson have also achieved this award.

The jury’s statements stated: 

“From design to colour scheme to materiality, Qufora IrriSedo MiniGo radiates that calming gentleness which is so vital for its use.” 

“The Qufora IrriSedo Flow has a convincing user-friendly design, which enables reliable and straightforward use in various contexts.”

So why does this all matter then?

Design plays a pivotal role in empowering patients:

By incorporating thoughtful design elements that simplify and streamline the use of rectal irrigation, we aim to break down the barriers and empower the patient. Our products are designed to minimises the impact on patients and the thinking they need to do about both starting and continuing to use irrigation.

For example, when introducing rectal irrigation to a patient unfamiliar with the concept, they begin to analyse its pros and cons using both rational and emotional thinking. Initially understanding its benefits, they later rethink the idea, uncertain about using something which is ‘outside the norm’. However, by introducing user-friendly designed irrigation systems, we minimise the mental load for patients, simplifying their decision-making process.

Historically, rectal irrigation products catered to a limited demographic in specific situations. However, by shifting the focus towards design, the industry has evolved to create a more diverse range of innovative products that accommodate multiple scenarios. This shift has led to us seeing an increase in patients willing to try rectal irrigation, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for a broader range of individuals.

The heart of design follows three key qualities:

The heart of exceptional design, as highlighted by the Red Dot Award jury, revolves around three key qualities:

Function (product purpose and meeting the user needs): We regularly collaborate with healthcare professionals and patients to ensure that product design aligns with user needs. Our product evaluations and post-market surveillance reflect the success of our products in meeting user requirements and their intended purposes. By clicking on the name of each product, you can access the evaluations’ outcomes for both Qufora IrriSedo MiniGo/MiniGo Flex and Qufora IrriSedo Flow. These evaluations show that the products effectively fulfil user needs and align with their intended design purposes.

Seduction (Is the product aesthetically pleasing?): Focusing on the aesthetic appeal of the product is crucial – is the cone or catheter aesthetically pleasing, does it look like a product people would want to use? Our Research and Design team meticulously considers both functionality and visual appeal, considering aspects like is the cone firm enough to instil the water, but soft enough for comfort when being used. Collaborations with patients during development further ensures that our products meet user needs.

Use (Simple to use and self-explanatory): Ensuring products are user-friendly and self-explanatory is a core priority. Our commitment to simplicity in design minimises the learning curve for patients, allowing them to benefit from irrigation promptly, leading to an improved quality of life.

The power of design

So, what’s design got to do with it? When design is right, it can have a profound impact on patients’ irrigation journeys. The transformative power of well-thought-out design in rectal irrigation is evident in the stories of our patients. One patient likened the upgrade from our previous system to the MiniGo as “changing from a Fiat Panda to a Ferrari overnight.” Another initially hesitant patient described the experience as an “absolute game changer… Now I see it as my friend”, after seeing the simplicity behind it.

Our core message revolves around the power of collaboration and user-centric design which empowers patients, increasing their chances of success in their rectal irrigation journey, ultimately improving their quality of life.