A design firm reorganized internal and external elements of a photopheresis device to enhance patient-caregiver interaction.
Therakos (Exton, PA; www.therakos.com) was looking to develop a more sophisticated photopheresis device to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma that would offer faster collection time, optimal fluid management, and added flexibility while featuring a sleek, lean design. To achieve this goal, Therakos turned to 4sight Inc. (New York City; www.4sightinc.com), a product design and development company.
Prior to developing several design concepts, the 4sight industrial design team conducted interviews with technicians and nurses at various treatment centers and carefully observed how the existing machine was used with patients. Taking this information into account, 4sight sought to incorporate user-friendly design elements into a more compact, efficient-looking package.
In terms of aesthetics, 4sight focused on simple lines and surfaces, clean geometric shapes, and soft colors such as gray and white to convey an overall impression of efficacy without being intimidating to the user and patient. The company hoped to further put the patient at ease by redesigning the centrifuge of the Cellex machine, which separates the blood and mixes it with medicine that is treated by a UVA light cartridge. The design firm changed the orientation of the mechanism so that the centrifuge door opens in an up-and-down sliding motion and is balanced by a gas spring. Now, the patient and medical professional are closer to each other during treatment, which can be more reassuring for the individual and can minimize the chance for technician error. The designers also raised the touch screen LCD display and made it more adjustable so that it no longer blocks the view of the patient.
Tube management was another 4sight contribution. “Instead of having all the tubes scattered throughout the machine, they are routed off the centrifuge and organized in a safe way,” explains Stuart Leslie, 4sight president. Tubes and IV bags now hang underneath the machine—not off the sides like before—in an effort to minimize opportunities for them to get twisted and block fluid flow.
A significant engineering challenge for the team proved to be achieving a sleeker frame and smaller interior while integrating complex components and circuitry into a logical layout, according to Leslie. By evaluating the housing exterior requirements and every internal part—including PC boards, fans, power transformers, and electronic sensors—4sight analyzed how each item could be made smaller and whether a different part could be substituted for an existing one. “For example, we recommended swapping out the old centrifuge motor for a new, flatter one to reduce the unit’s height,” Leslie recalls.
The company then rearranged components to optimize the layout. “We reconfigured, changed, and reorganized the numerous internal and external components, from circuit boards to hoses and tubes, into a compact, well-integrated package,” Leslie says.
As a result of its analyses, 4sight was able to make the equipment narrower and reduced its height to less than 5 ft. Because of its enhanced portability, the system can now be wheeled with ease through the maze of doorways and beds of a healthcare facility, according to 4sight.
With 4sight’s integration of form and function, combined with Therakos’s improved cell-separation process, the new system can reduce patient hook-up and treatment time by 50%, according to the companies. The redesign yielded a new Cellex machine that improves patient interaction and visibility while allowing for easier transport in any medical facility.