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Axonics Neuromodulation System

Axonics Modulation Technologies

Medical: Commercializing New Technologies

Karten Design designed a streamlined ecosystem of devices that dramatically improves the patient experience around Axonics’ next-generation sacral nerve stimulation technology.

Axonics Modulation Technology has a class-leading nerve stimulation device that delivers small electrical bursts to targeted nerves in the body. At one-third of the size of competitive devices, and with a battery that lasts up to a decade longer, the device squarely positioned Axonics—a small medtech startup—to compete against long-standing neuromodulation leaders like Medtronic and Boston Scientific.

To determine the best market application for Axonics’ game-changing technology, Karten Design identified key industry players and competitors, disease trends, and regulatory barriers. Our strategic analysis pointed the company to its final business direction: sacral nerve stimulation to treat overactive bladder and fecal incontinence.

Next, we conducted in-depth design research, interviewing opinion leaders, surgeons, technicians, and patients to understand the current sacral neuromodulation (SNM) treatment for overactive bladder. Armed with insights that revealed opportunities to improve on the efficacy, acceptance, and usability of SNM treatment, we began defining Axonics’ new system and the user experience around it.

For clinicians, our primary objective was to simplify the implant programming as much as possible. We introduced a completely new tool: a lightweight programmer that gives doctors greater accuracy, precision, and confidence during programming.

Karten Design defined the programmer’s graphic user interface from scratch, incorporating iterative testing and consistent feedback from physicians to ensure the interface would be helpful, simple, and intuitive for users of all skill levels.

Currently available neuromodulation systems, though clinically functional, provided a poor user experience for patients. Bulky, outdated devices were painful to use, and their limited feedback caused uncertainty and confusion. The implant charging process placed burdensome restrictions on their daily activities.

To remedy this physical and emotional pain, designers conceptualized the neuromodulation industry’s first lightweight, portable inductive charging device. With no wires and a slim profile that allows it to be worn discreetly under clothing, Axonics’ new charging device gives patients the freedom to go about their lives with minimal interference.

A small, handheld remote enables patients to adjust stimulation levels and check their implant’s battery status, removing much of the confusion and frustration caused by previous systems.

A functioning model of the Axonics system was unveiled at the International Neuromodulation Society World Congress, and has since helped the company earn more than $38 million in funding. Axonics is scheduled to begin clinical trials in March 2016.

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