On a recent medical device project, I worked with a startup and a couple third party resources on product development. The intended device was basically a “me too” product. Early on, the startup stressed the importance of an aggressive timeline. The actual design–the look and feel–was not formally discussed that often. The startup would sometimes, though, hold up his iPhone and comment about simple, yet elegant the design is. But then the discussion would shift back to technical details. A couple weeks later during a project team meeting, we began discussing detailed requirements and specifications. And again, the startup would casually mention a cool gadget he saw over the weekend, drawing extra attention to its buttons and display.
This sort of thing happened a few times. Sometimes there were emails with sketches. Other times comments like those described above. But for whatever reason, what was heard by the engineering firm was the focus needed to be 100% on the technical details, specifications, and product performance. And this all came to a screeching halt a few weeks later when the engineering firm presented the device concept at a design review. I knew the moment the device image was displayed on the screen during the presentation that the startup did not like what he was seeing. Yet he held his composure and gave me a bit of an earful afterward. I deserved it too. I ASSUMED that the engineering firm heard and understand that design was important. However, they had not.
My advice to you is realize that design is always important. How the product looks, how users will interact, how care givers interface are always aspects that must be considered with any product design.