Sandra Jarvis-Selinger

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Collaborative development of medical devices: qualitative study of communication between physicians and engineers (2019)

The importance of collaboration between physicians and engineers on improving the medical devices and patient safety is highly recognized. Previous studies found communication as an important component to interdisciplinary collaboration, however, maintaining an effective interdisciplinary communication can be challenging. With scarce literature on investigating the interaction between physicians and engineers, this study focuses on exploring the communication experiences of these two professional groups who have worked together collaboratively on medical devices. To better understand their challenges and facilitators, this research identifies six pairs of engineers and physicians who have worked together for years. All six cases, twelve engineers and physicians in total, are interviewed separately under qualitative case study method. The result of thematic analysis discovers three main categories: building relationship, team members quality, and communication techniques. The findings show that team members quality such as interest and dedication can help build strong relationships. Defining clear expectations at the beginning of the projects as well as sharing workload seem to improve relationships and foster communication. Other techniques contributing to effective communication include continuous feedback and face to face meetings. With a more careful analysis of findings, a model of personal and contextual factors with an emphasis on their interrelationship is suggested. Reviewing communication practices in all six cases illustrates that the benefits of collaboration overweigh the barriers. Thus, it is recommended that collaboration between physicians and engineers continue in the whole process of developing medical devices.

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