Medical device development with client needs in focus

Can gender perspectives of the end user save lives?

In the development of Medical Devices, there is a big difference in gender distribution between product developers and end users. How does this affect the product experience? If end users in this case are healthcare professionals; how does this affect patient safety?

One of the most common challenges in product development is that the engineer does not have sufficient experience of what the environment looks like where the product is to be used. In addition, there is another aspect, the product developers are mostly men and the first rounds of consultations go to experts who are also preferably men. But the one who will use the product, the end user in healthcare is largely women.

“In my everyday life as a salesperson of surgical equipment, I was often told that the equipment is too heavy to move and handle, for example the support needed to keep the patient in the right position on the operating table”, says Pär Blixt, Sales at AFRY.


Looking ahead just a few years, we see an increased need to adapt equipment and instruments for a wider group of users. It is not only about consideration for muscle strength but also differences in length and hand size. A surgical instrument that has been developed without including this in the process risks, for example, fitting worse in a smaller hand or being heavier than would be optimal.

Katarina Nilsson-Helander, Dep of Orthopaedics at Sahlgrenska University Hospital says that she often faces the challenge of instruments not being developed with these aspects in mind.

“As a female surgeon, I often face the problem of instruments that are adapted for a larger hand or a longer user. With adapted equipment, the working environment would be improved and we would save both time and resources. In the long run, this affects the quality of care”, says Katarina.

Accelerates gender equality in gender distribution  

Several of the surgical specialist areas are male-dominated today, but more women are applying for these.

Johan Rössner, product developer since the 90s and with experience of the entire broad spectrum that medical technology products span, means that AFRY increases the quality of user experience and also patient safety, by thinking one step further in the early stages of product development.

"It is not possible to design away all the needs for customized products, but it does not take much to make small adjustments that make it easier for more users. As a product developer in 2021, I have a responsibility to take into account more than one conservative standard end user", says Johan.

“As a salesperson, I know that this is also a great advantage when choosing a supplier. In a sector where many products are generally comparable and competition fierce, this becomes a way to increase their sales with simple means. Ultimately, it is about taking care of the patient in the best way, a product that is easier to handle will of course improve the outcome for the patient while adapted instruments can be ergonomically favorable for the user”, Johan concludes.

Medicine and syringe in a lab environment

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Jörgen Simonsson - Business Unit Manager Product & Software Engineering
Jörgen Simonsson
Business Unit Manager Product & Software Engineering

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