Medical company discovers the cure for IT headaches

MDU Story

We were getting what was promised, and our problems were being sorted out. We’ve never looked back.

Injections are never pleasant, but having to inject yourself for the first time can be downright daunting.

It should, however, be safe and effective, thanks to the exhaustive testing of companies like Cambridge-based Medical Device Usability (MDU).

MDU works with patients and healthcare professionals to put pharmaceutical and medical devices and protocols through their paces. Their clients range from some of the largest US and European pharmaceutical and medical device companies, to smaller medical technology businesses. MDU studies are helping ensure the drugs and devices used to manage everything from Arthritis to Parkinson’s Disease are easy to understand and safe to use.

The company’s ethos is firmly evidence- and experiment-based, so it is not surprising that co-owner Sally Featherstone initially questioned whether the benefits of taking on an IT support provider would merit the costs. “I was worried it was going to be very expensive and that we wouldn’t need everything they would do. I thought ‘is it going to run away with us?’”

However, muddling through without expert help was not a viable option for the growing team and their expanding client base. “We were getting IT issues and we just didn’t have time to deal with them. We could get by on some things, but certainly not all. We didn’t want to employ someone full-time to look after our IT because we weren’t certain we’d keep them busy enough, and even now I don’t think we would.”

MDU approached Cambridge Helpdesk on a recommendation, and began working with them  on a trial basis. “We felt at ease really quickly because we were getting results. We were getting what was promised, and our problems were being sorted out. It was saving us so much time. We’ve never looked back.”

The company found they benefited from Cambridge Helpdesk’s expert advice too. Much of MDU’s work is highly confidential, and their security is regularly audited by drug companies. “We have to be able to say, hand on heart, that we are doing everything we can to be secure. The team has made our systems better. Previously we’d have gone for off-the-shelf products but with their knowledge we can access the best option now.”

The researchers travel frequently, often spending several weeks overseas running studies, and consequently email Cambridge Helpdesk out of UK office hours. Even when in Cambridge, Sally admits she sometimes sends a message late in the evening, while she remembers, so that it can be dealt with the next day. “We often get an email back checking whether we’d like it done there and then, and even though it’s not usually necessary, it’s nice to have that responsiveness. I don’t think we realised we’d get that kind of service when we started working with them, or to what level they’d push themselves to support us.”

MDU’s expertise is in ‘human factors’ – the varied and unforeseen ways that human behaviour can lead to unexpected results from a device or drug. She freely admits the potential for user error is as much a factor in IT problems as it is in medical technology issues. With a laugh, she concludes, “Cambridge Helpdesk are really nice. They always treat your problem as genuine and want to help you out. They’d never make you feel like you’re a wally because you’d forgotten to turn your laptop on!”


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We were getting what was promised, and our problems were being sorted out. We’ve never looked back.
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