Turnaround through Empathy

MiniMed 507 Portable Insulin Pump

Client:     Medtronic

Three years after it was introduced, sales for the company had increased 357% and in 2001 MiniMed was acquired by Medtronic for $3.28 billion.

Turn Around Falling Adoption of their Quality-of-Life Technology

MiniMed, an insulin pump manufacturer, came to RKS with sales down 30% and their company in a crisis. They needed a solution for the falling adoption rates of their products and sought our insight and ideas for solutions.


Used Current Insulin Pump Technology to Understand its Pitfalls by Wearing them 24/7 Using Saline Instead of Insulin

Interviews of patients, and mapping told us only part of the story. Physicians expressed their preference for the MiniMed pump over the competition. However, patient preference for the “European” competitor was clear. We proposed a deeper understanding of the situation. A team of four designers wore insulin pumps for four days pumping saline, as opposed to insulin, 24 hours a day to create the first person user perspective and uncover emotional factors at the root of low adoption rates. After many curious stares and questions from strangers to friends, the team concluded a stigma created by the overtly looking medical was behind the low adoption rates. After many curious stares and questions from strangers and friends inquiring what was “wrong” with us, the team identified the stigma created by the overtly looking medical device was a clear barrier to adoption. Being perceived and treated as being sickly was causing patients to forego the benefit of MiniMed in order to avoid alienation.


A User Centered Strategy Helped Us Redesign a New Pump that Resulted in Sales Growth of Almost 1900% and the Acquisition by Medtronic for over 3 Billion

Based on this paradigm shifting insight, the team came up with an empowering solution for the suffering end users. The team redesigned the device to resemble a pager with aesthetic design details and advanced materials. This transformed the medical device into a coveted status symbol. Within three years, adoption rates soared and MiniMed’s annual revenue jumped from $45 million to $171 million. Shortly thereafter, the MiniMed 507’s success led Medtronic to acquire MiniMed for $3.28 billion dollars.