Medical exam chair becomes centerpiece for care exchange

The Midmark 626 exam chair is an integrated ecosystem in its own right, uniquely and thoughtfully designed to provide the best possible experience for both caregivers and the widest range of patients. It’s also another robust and exciting chapter in Design Central’s longstanding relationship with Midmark. Their team tasked us with building on the success of the 625 chair, which we’d also worked on, and most importantly, to improve upon the process for blood pressure measurements by offering a chair that meets recommended American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for properly positioning patients to measure blood pressure accurately. Our collaboration also led to several new features designed for improved efficiency of the vitals acquisition process in response to the ever-increasing demands of caregivers and patients, resulting in an award-winning exam chair.

  • Midmark Corporation
  • Healthcare
  • Strategy
  • Research
  • Product Design
  • Engineering
  • Prototyping
  • User Experience

Objective: Evolve Midmark’s exam chair to meet proposed AHA requirements, improve the blood pressure reading process and incorporate key enhancements.

Strengthening ergonomics to meet AHA & ADA requirements

Creating a more accessible healthcare experience begins with the very space in which each patient is examined throughout the care exchange. With the 626, Midmark didn’t just want to meet AHA requirements for assessing blood pressure and vital signs – they wanted to provide an option that would support and properly position the widest range of patients. So they tasked us with lowering the seat height to 14.6 inches to accommodate a 3rd percentile female patient while allowing it to reach a maximum exam height of 37 inches. It enables more accurate blood pressure readings, as the patient is in an optimal seated position without much effort.  For the elderly, bariatric patients and those with disabilities, this makes it easier to get in and out of the chair, meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and U.S. Access Board recommendations. We put human factors to work to understand how these changes and enhancements could best benefit patients and caregivers.

“[Design Central] took a theory and made it real. They took a concept and made it real. They took a business use case and made it real.” Jon Wells, Chief Commercial Officer, Midmark

Engineers work to deliver one compressed and efficient package

We paid special attention to the patient support rails, which had to position the arm properly at heart level, allowing for more accurate blood pressure readings. This also gives the caregiver best possible patient access. The challenge for our engineering team rested in finding ways to lower the seat height without sacrificing maximum height. Midmark also needed space to incorporate key features and accessories: their Clean Assist Roller System (a retractable roller base that makes it easier for caregivers to clean the room), a drawer for storage, and space for stirrups and support rails, among other things. We hunted for height anywhere we could find it – a centimeter here, another there. We found one solution, for example, in the type of upholstery used (thinner but equally durable material buys height!). Finally, a built-in scale and integrated connectivity allow for a seamless vitals process. The result is a product that responds to the demands of the healthcare market, caregivers and patients alike.

“What Design Central brings is that fresh perspective. At Midmark, we’re more—and probably should be more—focused on function. They can add to that, and they bring the user experience discussion front and center.” Kurt Forsthoefel, Marketing Director, Midmark