Patients Involved – Using user research

Last update: 18 July 2023


Novo-Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company, does user research with patients to enhance understanding of patients and to develop products that meet users’ needs.

Description of the case

In Novo Nordisk Device R&D we do user research with patients. The purpose of user research is to enhance understanding of users in order to develop products that meet users’ needs. More specifically, user research within Device R&D is performed in order to:

  • Gain or refine an understanding of user needs.
  • Get feedback on product and / or service concepts.
  • Evaluate the usability of devices and packaging material.

The user research is designed to the specific project’s needs and methods are decided accordingly.

We have a department made up of professional researchers, responsible for ensuring the quality and compliance of user research used in early device development.

Type(s) of patient (advocates) involved

  • Patients with personal disease experience

Benefits of patient involvement

Through user research we try to understand patients’ articulated as well as unarticulated needs, and thereby ‘test’ whether the technological innovations we are conducting match and meet real users’ real needs.

Challenges and barriers

There are many internal as well as external rules and regulations. In order to ensure compliance we have developed comprehensive guidelines for user research, which describes the process flow which all user research has to follow.

The department conducts the research and when project members (e.g. engineers) are invited to participate in the research –they will be trained beforehand in the anthropological approach and in rules and regulations.


We learned that it takes a lot of resources to ensure compliance with rules and regulations.

Another learning is that the anthropological approach to gaining more insights into users’ perspective is extremely valuable in the early phases of development. It is important to understand that people do not express their needs explicitly –most of the issues interesting for us exist on an unarticulated level, therefore qualitative research methods, and researchers trained in this approach are needed.



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