usability testing for a task-shifting device

the context

During prior work, I had identified the need for a task-shifting medical device to assist in the administration of contraceptive implants and then worked with a design team to develop a prototype and gather feedback from stakeholders. This lead to a device that satisfied the major requirements of our stakeholders. We therefore moved on to explore the overall usability of the device (that we now called the SubQ Assist).

the goal

The goal of this study was to evaluate the latest SubQ Assist prototype to understand if it was designed to be easily used to Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) in rural areas of Ethiopia. Additionally, we wanted to better understand how other healthcare providers reacted to the SubQ Assist and what recommendations they had for any design changes moving forward.

the method

An arm model was developed that enabled healthcare providers to administer contraceptive implants (using the SubQ Assist and the traditional methodology) in a life-like model. Additionally, this would allow for measurements of accuracy to be made and our team to observe the providers as they administered the implants. In total, 128 healthcare providers participated in the study including 54 CHWs (or target end-user).


breakdown of profession for volunteers participating in the usability study

Arm Model.png

The arm simulator; (A) epidermis and dermis tissue, Ecoflex® silicone; (B) connective tissue, cotton; (C) subcutaneous tissue, Ecoflex® silicone and Slacker®; (D) muscle tissue, Ecoflex® silicone; and (E) bone tissue, polyvinyl chloride

the results

Results Fig.PNG

while nurses & midwives demonstrated significantly fewer errors (perhaps as a result of more experience with inserting implants); community healthcare workers did not show a statistically significant difference when compared with physicians