Fluid – Rethinking the Infusion Pump

Fluid is a large volume infusion pump that aims to reduce human input error through a clearly defined workflow. Fluid applies human-centered-design principles and research findings to minimize the time spent configuring the device which allows more time for patient bedside care. Importantly, as human input errors were found to be the leading cause of clinically irrelevant alarms, Fluid aims to address these issues to improve the hospital soundscape and reduce alarm fatigue.


Alarm fatigue is a multi-factored and internationally recognized alarm hazard that occurs when an individual is desensitized or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of alarm signals. In the health and medical industry, this has led to health and medical professionals delaying care, missing alarms, turning down the volume, silencing, and in some cases, disabling clinical significant alarms altogether (Graham & Cvach, 2010).

which severely compromises the safety of patients as well as disrupting the workflow of caregivers

but what actually causes all these alarms?

My research aimed to understand a firsthand perspective of the issues surrounding alarm fatigue by investigating:
○ The current state of alarming medical devices
○ Frustrations with the hospital soundscape
○ Other high-risk industries to understand their perspectives on alarm management, design, and workflows

this led to three research questions:

1) What is the workflow of nurses and how do alarming medical devices impinge on their duty of care?
2) What are the main contributors to the hospital noise load and how can they be reduced?
3) How can we learn from other high-risk industries which involve alarming systems and devices?

So what did I find?

Thesis report key findings

Key Findings

Up to 95% of the alarm signals are nuisance alarms (clinically irrelevant) – meaning they do not tell us anything useful and negate the safety features of the medical devices

Where the main noise contributors to the elevated hospital noise load were:

1) Alarms from medical devices

2) Human related factors – patient noises, speech, etc.

3) Built environment factors – spatial layout, materials, etc.


discoverability, menu navigation, workflows & ergonomics

which causes

Human Input Errors

SO WHAT CAN I DO to address these issues?


To design a product, system, or service for health and medical providers in the hospital environment that minimizes human input error thereby reducing alarm fatigue and improving the hospital soundscape with a potential to support or aid patient recovery.


• Improve the hospital soundscape by minimizing the risk of human input error and alarm fatigue
• Aid patient recovery where applicable
• Allow the operator to configure all parameters for individualized patient and care provider needs

But how?

By redesigning the Intravenous (IV) Pump

Identified in my research as being the most disruptive noise contributor in the hospital environment.

Introducing: Fluid

a large volume infusion pump that rethinks the workflow of infusion therapies

Fluid - In Use


So how does Fluid address the issues of Human Input Errors & Alarm Fatigue?


Fluid - RFID

By streamlining the workflow to reducing human input error

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID is already in use in many hospital identification cards. Fluid incorporates these technologies to link the pump to the drugs and the caregiver’s identification cards.

By having the doctor wirelessly transmit any patient/drug information directly to the responsible caregiver’s identification cards and the infusion pump; this not only replaces the written paper reports (bad handwriting) that are currently in use but more importantly reduces the chance of human input errors significantly either through inputting the wrong parameters or infusing the wrong drug entirely.
Fluid - Rotary Control Dial Render

By reducing clutter and simplifying operations

Control Dial

Instead of the use of labeled soft keys which are confusing to operate, Fluid instead incorporates a four-way directional rotating control dial with a single button positioned ergonomically that acts as a back button. This layout is akin to the control systems found in automotive infotainment systems such as BMW’s iDrive system and Mazda’s Connect system and is intuitive to learn and operate.

Importantly, all of the device’s parameters and functions can be controlled much more effectively, without any confusion or hesitation.
Fluid - Mounting Plate

By improving the pump mounting/dismounting user experience

During site visits, it was identified that the act of mounting and dismounting an infusion pump was a pain point due to having to awkwardly balance the pump in one hand whilst also twisting the c-clamp tightening knob with the other.

Fluid addresses these issues by integrating an “Arca-Swiss” style mounting plate system that is usually found on camera tripod mounts. By incorporating this system the act of mounting and dismounting is dramatically simplified.

To mount, the operator simply aligns the back of the pump with the cut out in the rail at the desired height level and drops the infusion pump in place.

To dismount, grasp the pump from both sides, lift the device upwards, and pull towards the operator.

As an added feature, Fluid is able to be mounted on any existing Arca Swiss compatible systems such as a camera tripod or rail which increases the device’s flexibility and functionality.
Fluid - USB C Rendering

By incorporating USB-C and battery technologies

USB-C reduces the need for a proprietary data transfer port and an AC socket found in existing devices and instead allows the transfer of data and charging to happen simultaneously with a single port.

Together with a 20,000 mAh Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery, Fluid has a rated battery life which is over 4x existing devices whilst also being lighter and able to be recharged at a much faster rate compared to the bulky power supply units of before.

This allows for all-day untethered infusions that were previously limited by battery technologies.
Fluid - Dual Stack

By considering ergonomics and universal design for all touch points

Every touchpoint of Fluid has been carefully considered in terms of ergonomics and universal design.

Unlike existing devices which have a display that is located on the front face of the pump, Fluid’s large display panel is angled ergonomically towards the user which allows critical information to be read easily at all working heights.

All buttons, grooves, and dials have been designed for universal access and are intuitive to operate.

By designing the User Interface for clarity and hierarchy

Fluid’s user interface has been designed to highlight the most critical elements to the operator during infusion therapies.

With large bold contrasting text elements and clearly defined units of measurements, human input error is greatly reduced.



Front Isometric

3D Powder Printed Model finished in high gloss acrylic paint

Model Making Process

Product Details

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Model Making Process

Want to find out more about Fluid?

Technical Drawings and Documentation

Asa Meng – Fluid | Dissertation

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Asa Meng

Asa is a multidisciplinary designer with a background in Architecture. Whether it is a product, service, or space, Asa applies empathy and his knowledge of design thinking, usability, feasibility with a touch of creativity to enhance existing or create new experiences. Let's connect below.