Usability Tests in Medicine: A Cost-Benefit Analysis for Hospitals Before Acquiring Medical Devices for Theatre

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Purpose: The use of active medical devices in clinical routine should be as safe and efficient as possible. Usability tests (UTs) help improve these aspects of medical devices during their development, but UTs can be of use for hospitals even after a product has been launched. The present pilot study examines the costs and possible benefits of UT for hospitals before buying new medical devices for theatre. Methods: Two active medical devices with different complexity were tested in a standardized UT and a cost-benefit analysis was carried out assuming a different device bought at the same price with a higher usability could increase the efficiency of task solving and due to that save valuable theatre time. Results: The cost of the UT amounted up to €19.400. Hospitals could benefit from UTs before buying new devices for theatre by reducing time-consuming operator errors and thereby increase productivity and patient safety. The possible benefits amounted from €23.300 to €1.570.000 (median = €797.000). Conclusion: Not only hospitals could benefit economically from investing in a UT before deciding to buy a medical device, but especially patients would profit from a higher usability by reducing possible operator errors and increase safety and performance of use.

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