Jochen Ratjen is SHL’s head of industrial design and a tour de force in safeguarding user needs. He leads a team of design and usability experts in SHL’s Sweden office, working with our design centers in the US and Taiwan to ensure the patient’s perspective is translated into our autoinjectors’ designs. A German native who has spent more than three decades in Sweden, Jochen perfectly incorporates his passion for aesthetics, his eye for precision, and his emphasis on practicality in his work.
Jochen began his career in an industrial design consultancy in the late 1980s. He played important roles in award-winning healthcare projects for the elderly and disabled, and worked on a variety of consumer and medtech products. Having worked for SHL first as a consultant before coming on board as a full-time designer, Jochen is known as one of SHL’s earliest and most important contributors to our patient-centric designs.
“As a provider of drug delivery solutions, we have to be ahead of our customers in understanding how the administration of injectable drugs affects the patient.”
– Jochen Ratjen, Director of Industrial Design
Jochen’s involvement as an industrial design consultant for SHL’s first injection product tells of the company’s dedication to designing devices focused on user needs. This was during the mid-1990s, an era he notes, when the medical industry’s understanding of “usability” focused more on functionality; in other words, solutions that solve a technical problem but not necessarily patient needs.
“Usability is so much more than the mechanical mechanism; it’s about understanding patients in their situations and lifestyles,” he said, and “As a provider of drug delivery solutions, we have to be ahead of our customers in understanding how the administration of injectable drugs affects the patient”.
That is why participation in user studies at a very early stage of a device’s development is extremely important. “Later in my career, I would actively ask to be a part of the user studies conducted by our customers to get a better sense of how to design SHL’s autoinjectors. These experiences gave me the chance to learn how studies or interviews are conducted, but most importantly, they helped me gain a better understanding of patient behaviors.” He adds, “Each treatment is different and each patient is unique. After all these years participating in user studies, I still find there is something new to learn.”
Prior to becoming an industrial design expert, Jochen was educated as a precision engineer in Germany. This experience helped cultivate his attention to the mechanical details that go into an autoinjector. His training also allowed him to consolidate the exterior design with the inner components so that each device is designed for both usability as well as for manufacturability.
During his free time, Jochen enjoys taking his Harley-Davidson on occasional rides in the countryside of Sweden. “The thrill of riding keeps me on my toes and reminds me to be grateful for the healthy life I am able to live.”
Now a father of three, Jochen is also more convinced than ever that his work needs to bring a positive impact on people of all ages and backgrounds. “Most patients are nervous when they start their treatment, and there is, without a doubt, always a long way to go before anyone can feel comfortable enough to treat themselves with a self-administered injection,” he said. “At the end of the day, nobody really wants to be sick and need treatment; the best thing we can do to help patients is to make what was originally a scary experience become as easy and as comfortable as we possibly can.”