Limor Hochberg is going places – literally. Nominated by the U.S. National Committee of the IEC to attend the 81st International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) general meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, Hochberg was one of three U.S. winners of the 2017 IEC Young Professionals Competition, which is for early-career professionals involved in standards development. Her bags remain packed as she travels coast-to-coast and everywhere in between to help clients safely innovate in the medical device world. Hochberg, a senior human factor specialist at UL, helps clients develop medical devices that are safe and effective to use.
“It might be an inhaler or a pen injector that delivers medication, an electronic health record, or a diagnostic tool that a radiologist or oncologist might use,” says Hochberg.
Hochberg’s 2018 projects include evaluating a web and mobile based application to help manage chronic conditions, plus research on the effective sterilization of endoscopes.
A graduate of Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, Hochberg holds a Bachelor’s of Science in cognitive science and a Master’s of Science in engineering psychology respectively.
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“Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I took a cognitive psychology class that discussed some human factors concepts such as how to use engineering and psychology principles to help design products that are well matched to people’s physical and cognitive capabilities. When I decided to focus my career on human factors and attend graduate school in the field, it was because I wanted to do something where I had a good reason to get up every day and feel I was making an impact,” says Hochberg. “As I considered various industries towards the end of graduate school, I knew that would particularly be the case working in human factors in healthcare.”
Hochberg came across UL-Wiklund when researching opportunities in the healthcare field. After looking at UL-Wiklund’s website and learning more about the team’s project work and leadership role within the field, she decided it would be rewarding to join a team of individuals who are all human factors experts.
“I knew that at UL-Wiklund I could specialize and excel in this field and work on a variety of products with a talented team of fellow human factors specialists, versus working in-house at a manufacturer where I might be the only human factors consultant and focused on a single product line,” she says.
Hochberg, an avid reader, first discovered human factors engineering in high school when she read a Newsweek article on the importance of design in healthcare, profiling a global design company called IDEO. The article noted the company’s work with hospitals to help improve a patient’s overall experience. Whether placing windows in doors to open up space and help the hospital feel transparent, or adding monitors in waiting rooms to help patients anticipate wait times, IDEO used human factors principles to help improve a patient’s journey within the healthcare system.
“They gave other examples, such as how IDEO’s team helped redesign the toothbrush by watching the various grips people use to brush their teeth. They optimized the toothbrush’s form factor based on user research, and I remember thinking it was really fascinating,” says Hochberg.
Hochberg took her newfound interest to the library where she read a classic book on human factors called The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman.
“I realized human factors was the perfect mix of industrial design and applied psychology,” she says. “It’s a nice blend of creative and analytical thinking because it includes both design and research elements,” Hochberg concludes.
An individual at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a U.S Department of Commerce organization, nominated Hochberg for the IEC Young Professional Program because of her work developing a standard on Health IT software and systems usability. The standard is based on a large-scale, multi-year research effort focused specifically on electronic health record (EHR) usability, which UL-Wiklund completed on behalf of NIST. The goal of the research effort was to develop guidelines for electronic health record developers and usability engineers that would help them develop usable, safe, and effective EHRs.
Limor is currently working with Michael Wiklund, UL-Wiklund’s general manager, to lead a group of health IT experts in developing guidance focused on health IT usability, expected to be published by the Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation as a national standard in 2018.
Reflecting back on the IEC Young Professional Program, she says: “It was a really great experience to meet engineers and standards professionals from around the world and hear about how they create and apply engineering standards in their industries. I felt proud to represent UL, and having the chance to be in the international environment of young professionals who are all invested in their careers in standards was very engaging.”
Like we said, Limor Hochberg is going places, and we look forward to following her as she does.
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