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Designing a User Interface for a Portable Sepsis Treatment Device


Soldiers injured in combat are at high risk for sepsis, a serious systemic infection that can result from an infected wound and is fatal if left untreated. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) partnered with a medical device company to develop a portable device for treatment of sepsis utilizing the same principals as a dialysis machine. DARPA came to Battelle for assistance in developing a user interface appropriate for military users in the field. 


Battelle used principles of Human Centric Design (HCD) and early formative research with end users to develop prototypes for the layout of the system and the software Graphical User Interface (GUI). The team used an iterative design process, testing each iteration of the prototypes with end users. These tests were used to verify that the system would meet users’ expectations for completing specific tasks—in this case, administering a blood-filtering therapy to treat sepsis. Researchers observed end users interacting with the prototypes to evaluate preventable use errors that could result in patient risk. Results were used to refine the designs. 


Battelle’s user research and HCD-based development work resulted in an interface and GUI that minimize use errors that may lead to patient safety risk. Battelle is now conducting human factors research on the final product for FDA regulatory submission. Battelle’s comprehensive HCD services allowed DARPA to streamline development timelines with an all-inclusive program that carried them from early conceptual research to final submission. Once the device is approved for use, it will give military medics an important new tool to prevent deaths from sepsis in military hospitals and in the field.