Sonosense - the future of ultrasound for Siemens

How might we change the sonography workflow, so that doctors are able to focus more on their weak or obese patients?

How might we change the sonography workflow, so that doctors are able to focus more on their weak or obese patients?

Sonosense

Sonosense

 2015; with Siemens Healthineers (Healthcare)

 2015; with Siemens (Healthcare) Healthineers

Introduction

Together with Siemens, I designed a possible future for ultrasound in the medical context.

During an intensive user-centered research process with the entire project team, we gathered valuable insights. After separating, the findings helped each and every one of us to create a desirable solution for the future of ultrasound examination.

Challenge

One of my insights during the user research helped me to form the design challenge: To capture clear and precise pictures during the ultrasound examination, it is important that patients are able to move and change their positions. Old, weak or obese patients are not able to do so on their own. - How can I support patients in taking the right position? How can I help doctors get clear images?

Result

Sonosense is a wireless ultrasound probe, optimized for an easier physical workflow with obese or weak patients. 

The wireless probe enables sonographers to focus on the patient and use their free second hand intuitively.

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The probe's wristband functions as an interface between the physician, the patient and the ultrasound device. The wireless probe has its most important interaction elements for the ultrasonic examination combined at the wristband.

Concept

The wireless probe releases the doctor's second hand. While using one hand for the ultrasound probe, the other hand can be used to position the patient and find the right position to capture images. This freedom allows physicians to take reliable, high-quality ultrasound images, even from hard-to-reach places.

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1. The sonographer unplugs the cable; the wireless ultrasound examination is starting.

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2. The second hand is free and the sonographer is able to focus the patient.

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3. The wristband allows the sonographer to interact with the ultrasonic unit.

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4. It is simple to change the patient's position.

4. It is easy to change the patients position.

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5. The sonographer is able to react to patients needs.

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6. This enables intuitive touching and feeling.

Design Process

User Research; Expert Interview; User Journey; Ideation Workshop; Prototyping

Context

Sonography, as a non-invasive real-time imaging method, has become an essential part of medicine. In the future, in which medicine is increasingly associated with prevention, it offers great potential. This project requires an examination of two perspectives. On the one hand, sonography experts who interpret ultrasound images. But it also addresses patients who are often physically unable to meet the requirements of the ultrasound context.

The ultrasound system

An examination takes place in darkened rooms. This is intended to make it easier to interpret the images. The ultrasound device itself has a monitor, that shows the pictures, input keys to control some settings and one or more examination probes with a cable.

The ultrasound system

An examination takes place in darkened rooms. This is intended to make it easier to interpret the images. The ultrasound device itself has a monitor, that shows the pictures, input keys to control some settings and one or more examination probes with a cable.

The examination

During the examination, the doctors take ultrasound pictures and interpret them immediately or after the examination. In addition to prenatal examinations, the thyroid gland, heart, veins and internal organs are also often examined.

The examination

During the examination, the doctors take ultrasound pictures and interprets them immediately or after the examination. In addition to prenatal examinations, the thyroid gland, heart, veins and internal organs are also often examined.

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The patient

Many patients feel insecure during the examination. Especially if they already have a pre-existing illness. The insecurity is based on the fact that they are not able to interpret the ultrasound images themselves.

The patient

Many patients feel insecure during the examination. Especially if they already have a pre-existing illness. The insecurity is based on the fact that they are not able to interpret the ultrasound images themselves.

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The sonographer

In Germany, the ultrasound examination is usually performed by the doctors themselves. They receive a basic introduction to ultrasound diagnostics during their training. Through a lot of initiative and experience, the doctors learn to interpret images with safety. 

The sonographer

In Germany, the ultrasound examination is usually performed by the doctors themselves. They receive a basic introduction to ultrasound diagnostics during their training. Through a lot of initiative and experience, the doctors learn to interpret images with safety. 

User Research

User Research

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During a visit at the ultrasonic showroom of Siemens Healthcare I was able to try out various devices myself. Experts explained the handling of ultrasound devices.

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At the Albertinen Hospital in Hamburg I accompanied specialists for two days. The focus was on abdominal sonography.

By observing everyday work processes I was able to gain numerous observations and statements. I recognized valuable information through watching and talking to sonographers and their patients.

User Journey

User Journey

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The user trip summarizes all collected observations and statements from the visits to hospitals and Siemens Healthcare. From this, I have derived important insights.

How might we enable the doctor to focus his workflow on the patient?

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Detail

During the examination situation, there is a basic position for examiners. One hand is permanently on the keyboard to control the device. The other hand guides the ultrasound probe over the patient.

During the examination situation there is a basic position for examiners. One hand is permanently on the keyboard to control the device. The other hand guides the ultrasound probe over the patient.

Quote from a doctor: "As you can see, here you are always 'playing the piano' with one hand."

How can we free the doctor from the cable and relieve him?

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Detail

The cable of the ultrasonic probe is a hygienic and ergonomic problem.

The examiners use relieving postures to avoid these problems.

Ideation Workshop

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In a workshop with students and designers from Siemens Healthcare, we translated the first insights into first ideas and prototypes.

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Prototyping first ideas

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What is the status quo? What might be desirable tomorrow?

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By building prototypes and making first ideas quickly experienceable, I was able to gather further insights during the process.

How might we facilitate the doctor's work with physically weakened or obese patients?

The determination of clear ultrasound images is essential for reliable diagnostics. For that high-quality images from different perspectives, patients often have to lie in different positions. It is often difficult to obtain clear ultrasound images because many patients are obese. Also, old and weak patients are physically unable to do this.

Iteration through Prototyping

The examiner should be able to interact freely without being bound to a basic position or the probe cable. The doctor should be able to help weak patients to move into the required position.

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What if the sonographer could use the second hand to feel the right position for the probe.

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Reflexion & Strategy

User Research; Medical Context; Iteration

The on-site research at the hospital has proven to be extremely valuable. Just by observing and active listening, it was possible to identify large pains and gains in the daily workflow. It was important to understand the context, the process, and the whole ultrasound system.

In the medical context, user-centeredness has a special role in ensuring usability and safe interaction with the product. What is also interesting is, that the individual user groups have extremely large differences in their qualifications. A doctor is interested in completely different workflows than a nurse. In other areas, there are large overlaps. Both have to be considered in the product design.

The early testing of prototypes leads to quick insights and helped me to design the product system. There where various other product design before the final one. And many design decisions are based on quick prototypes.

 

More work