Kate Weatherly OPIVA Refined

  • Tauira / Student
    Kate Weatherly
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Stephen Reay

Since its inception in America during the early 1970s, outpatient intravenous antibiotic (OPIVA) therapies have provided patients with live-saving intravenous antibiotics at home rather than in hospitals. OPIVA services typically involve six to eight weeks of intensive antibiotic treatment following a period of inpatient care. Beyond saving money and valuable bed spaces, these therapies have allowed patients to recover from severe infections in the comfort of their own homes. However, existing research has essentially only considered the clinical outcomes of these services, with little discussion centred around the patient’s experiences with the products that make up the treatment systems. Most existing OPIVA treatment systems are comprised of an elastomeric infuser, a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), a sterile dressing, an IV extension line, surgical tape (to manage the IV line), and a storage bag for the elastomeric infuser.

In response to this gap in the literature, this research set out to use human-centred design (HCD) methods to explore how the medical devices that make up a New Zealand District Health Board’s OPIVA service could be redesigned to improve the experiences of patients within the service. For many medical devices, clinical staff were the primary users. However, for OPIVA, patients needed to learn to manage the treatment system themselves (or with the help of a family member or district nurse). Managing the OPIVA system involves changing the elastomeric infuser every 24 hours. In this project, primary research was conducted with previous OPIVA patients and OPIVA clinical staff. Through the experiences and input of these participants, the research focused on improving the usability, aesthetics and ergonomics of the infuser and redesigning the storage bag to be wearable under clothing. Along with the redesign of these elements, this research proposed a new system to replace the surgical tape used to hold the IV lines in place on the patient’s arm, which could help to increase the accessibility and ease of use of the system. Participants were able to provide feedback on these concepts during expert critique sessions throughout the research, which helped inform the design process and validate the design outcomes.

By exploring how patients could be more directly involved in the medical device development process, this research used Action Research and HCD methodologies to advocate for the inclusion of patients experiences in the redesign of the products that make up the OPIVA treatment system. Many medical device development processes overlooked patients as stakeholders in the design process at the time of the research. The dominant perspectives on medical product design in the past have centred on minimising production costs while maintaining the health outcomes of patients. This development process has often left patients out of the development process. The findings of this research demonstrated that if patients’ experiences were involved in the design process of medical devices, then the usability of those devices could be improved.