Medicine meets design – moving beyond mere beauty?!

Why would a well-established development and production company for complex life-support systems choose to cooperate with a creative design company? The fact that Salvia medical and Wilddesign won the renowned IF International Forum Design Award for a unique ventilation device with innovative ventilation-integrated tomography (VIT) only provides a partial answer.

For the WILDDESIGN Medical Design Team, last week's "Designers' Night" was another occasion to celebrate a spectacular success.
However, as medical technology company, SALVIA medical had more profound motivation to cooperate with a well-respected design company than winning the coveted IF Design Award 2015 at Munich's BMW World.

“There are good reasons for cooperating with a creative and accomplished partner from the world of industrial design. Life-support systems such as our intensive care ventilation device elisa 800 VIT must strike a perfect balance of design, quality, and functionality,” said CEO Christian Hartmann during a free moment at the award ceremony. "To withstand the demands of daily clinical reality, almost all design elements have to meet stringent medical, functional, and hygienic requirements. This award and the feedback of our customers clearly say 'Mission Accomplished'.”

Hartmann's casual statement capped off 30 months of intensive interactions at the interface of medical technology and design.


Which values does an intensive-care ventilation device in the premium segment embody?

Features such as self-explanatory ease of use, effective software structure, and clear component arrangement are essential factors for therapeutic outcomes and error frequency, especially in stressful situations. Seen from that perspective, design is not a question of appearance, but a global and multifunctional answer to the demands of modern intensive care workstations. In light of rapid medical advances and frequent staffing shortages in hospitals, design development involves asking a wide range of questions and finding intelligent answers.

Past devices used in medicine had primarily been equipped with mechanical buttons and controls. Our customers had highly detailed requirements for hygiene, but as manufacturers of life-support equipment, the SALVIA medical team was of the opinion that modern intensive-care ventilators should have the same intelligent features as a contemporary smartphone.

To pursue the demanding goal of bridging the gap between easy operation of demanding therapeutic strategies and extensive growth opportunities for future functional expansions, the SALVIA engineering team, which has over 55 years of company expertise, met with the creative minds of WILDDESIGN. The resulting symbiosis of function and design is a clear winner.

“Our team was extremely flattered to win the coveted IF Design Award for the elisa 800 VIT,” says Markus Wild, the owner of WILDDESIGN. "It is not easy to win such an award when you consider that we competed against 5000 other design teams from 53 countries around the world. Although we are pleased about the design award, what really matters is the fact that we managed, together with the developers of our customer SALVIA and our partner, Swisstom, to meet the high expectations of users and to set a new industry standard."

What makes the elisa 800 VIT so user-friendly?

To give you an example of the complex requirements, we were able to reduce the confusing multitude of tubes and cables. In practical terms, we had to reorganize the patient supply cables and tubing to make the corresponding patient monitoring feasible. In addition, this ensured that the right access portal can be found immediately in emergencies.

We also restructured the necessary alarms and available information, and reduced the number and type of optical and acoustic alarms, some of which created an unnecessary sense of agitation. The relevant alarms and the evaluation of the measuring values that allow for the continuous assessment of a patient's status can now be clearly viewed and allocated on a 18.5 inch screen. Everything is more transparent and directly controllable.

The central image of the lung, updated in real time, immediately clarifies the patient's condition to enable any necessary user intervention. Swisstom, SALVIA's partner, developed the device technology and received a separate IF Design Award for the design of the user interface. That means an incredible two IF Awards in one sweep!

At the same time, the screen not only is a sophisticated display device, but also acts as a switchboard for all vital settings.

elisa 800 VIT from the perspective of the designer

The entire design process from the kick-off to final engineering and production only took 30 months. What stood out in the project was not (just) the genius of the developers, but also the regular involvement of various experts and users, who ultimately gave us many valuable suggestions for improvement. The new elisa 800 is therefore more than just another technical device—it is the next generation of intensive-care ventilation. Project manager Oliver Koszel considers the elisa 800 development process a positive example of a well-balanced relationship between esthetics, ergonomics, and technical implementation.