Natalie Abts

Natalie Abts

Natalie is the Senior Program Manager for the Usability Services division of the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare. She manages the technical and quality aspects of usability projects conducted both for the medical device industry and within MedStar Health. Natalie has specialized experience in planning and executing both formative stage usability evaluations and validation studies for medical devices and combination products on the FDA approval pathway. She also leads an initiative to incorporate usability testing into the medical device procurement process in the MedStar Health system, and is active in delivering educational presentations to the medical device industry and other special interest groups. Natalie holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering, with a focus on human factors and ergonomics, from the University of Wisconsin, where she was mentored by Dr. Ben-Tzion Karsh.


  • Maximizing Clinician Involvement For Improved Device Design
    Maximizing Clinician Involvement For Improved Device Design

    When considering human factors for medical devices and combination products, running a validation test with the device’s target end users (often clinicians) is universally understood as the primary requirement to meet FDA expectations. However, these activities too often are the extent of clinician involvement in the device lifecycle.

  • Incorporating Accessibility Into Medical Device Design

    When incorporating human factors into medical device development, conducting user testing and gathering feedback from the device’s target end users is critical. To do this properly, the end user groups must be appropriately defined.

  • Navigating The Ethics Of Product Validation

    Competing priorities can potentially lead to ethical conflict between consultants and device manufacturers, especially when development is near-complete. The keys to avoiding such conflict are a mutual understanding of shared safety and usability goals, and honest communication.

  • Beyond Validation: How Meeting Only Minimum Usability Requirements Can Affect Devices After FDA Approval

    Because FDA requirements focus heavily on usability issues related to safety, device developers can fall into the trap of assigning less meaning to usability problems that won’t cause harm. But, it is not always possible to catch all unanticipated use errors during validation, and usability problems not directly related to safety risks can still affect purchasing decisions and device acceptance.

  • The Case For Formative Human Factors Testing

    Because the validation test is required human factors testing, it can be tempting to skip over preliminary human factors activities during the development process. However, this approach is problematic from both a device usability and a safety standpoint.

  • How To Effectively Evaluate Instructional Materials and Labeling Before Development Is Complete

    How do we ensure that the instructional materials are going to facilitate safe and correct product use, and not introduce the potential for error? Ideally, we want to take the same approach that should be taken for device design: Incorporate human factors evaluations early and often. However, understanding the best way to do this is not always simple. 

  • Final FDA Human Factors Guidance: 10 Updates That Affect Your Validation

    FDA’s final human factors guidance expands upon the importance of incorporating a robust human factors approach throughout the design and development process, resulting in devices that are safe and usable for the intended user population in the intended use environment. Anyone planning to seek device approval through the 510(k) or PMA submission processes should note these 10 critical updates concerning device validation.

  • How Medtech Companies Can Reduce Costs And Increase Revenue Through Human Factors

    Healthcare is a more dangerous industry than most people realize. People are often surprised when they hear that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, especially considering our expectation that healthcare is here for our benefit. Despite numerous regulations and initiatives focusing on this problem, the magnitude of medical errors persists.

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