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GE Healthcare

DNA sample collection system design.

GE Healthcare approached us to support them in the design of their hugely successful Easicollect cell sample collection system for genetic analysis.

Buccal cell collection is a notoriously difficult process to do reliably. At the heart of the GE system are specialist FTA cards onto which captured buccal cells, from the inside of the mouth are transferred. These FTA cards are impregnated with a chemical which captures the DNA and renders the sample both safe to handle and secure. The successful capture of the sample is indicated through the pink sample on the card turning white.

Redesign of the Easicollect system was a significant challenge, with the millions used around the world either by the subjects themselves or by professionals such as forensic scientists, law enforcement officers and prison officers. GE needed an improved system that improved the design, was suitable for high manufacturing efficiency costs, took advantage of the FTA card technology, optimised the user experience and reduced errors in collection and transportation.

We undertook extensive formative usability testing on the existing GE system and on competitor products. Testing with a range of targeted user groups to fully identify and understand operational and usability challenges, and opportunities for improvement in both the product system and associated IFU and efficacy of buccal cell collection.

Working closely with GE Healthcare, we went on to design a range of sample collection devices that sought to greatly improve handling, usability and cell collection reliability whilst adhering to strict design for manufacture and cost target requirements.

Further prototyping and testing refined designed solutions down in a controlled and measured way leading to an optimised solution that fulfilled all the requirements of the initial brief.

The Easicollect+ system was launched in 2018 and is currently in extensive use by law enforcement, forensic scientists, and prison officers around the world.

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