SonoSite Experience Design Team
The SonoSite X-Porte is a product re-engineered from the ground up, allowing the designers to rethink the prerequisites for medical imaging equipment and an intelligent re-prioritization of the cognitive load of the operator. Despite the fact that this is complex equipment, the design makes it intuitive even for those who are not trained.
XPorte is a radical new all touch screen ultrasound system that brings design thinking to medical devices and tackles emerging health care problems.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
SonoSite is known as the provider of reliable, portable, applicationspecific ultrasound machines. The design of our systems help save lives by providing doctors fast access to vital information. SonoSite systems are used globally in hospitals, doctor’s offices and in remote locations.
Innovative engineering helped SonoSite establish a high quality and reliable brand by offering excellent image quality in a small device. However, technological innovation alone was no longer enough to solve some of the new challenges facing our customers: increased hospital borne infections, rising costs, and compromised quality of care.
SonoSite’s opportunity was to combine our impressive technology with a delightful user experience to tackle these issues, to evangelize ultrasound technology to a broader customer base and to provide a replacement for cumbersome, complicated, traditional ultrasound machines.
SonoSite has very close relationships with its customers. Not only do we often go into the field to learn how to make our systems better, but also, our customers often come to us to share their ultrasound experiences especially when they involve unusual circumstances. For example, Floating Doctors presented on taking one of our portable systems on boats throughout Central and South America to access remote villages.
We started XPorte by visiting medical practitioners in a variety of specialties throughout Europe, Japan, the U.S. and Canada. We watched, listened to and engaged with over 80 people to learn what XPorte needed to be to achieve our goals. We then went back to them at various stages of development to make sure we were on the right track.
Not only did we look at what features and attributes XPorte needed to provide, but also, observed how medical practitioners use technology in a larger sense. A key insight we gained from this research was that our users were infusing consumer devices into their medical practices in a significant way. We built on this insight, specifically designing the user experience to provide a smooth transition from personal device to medical system.
Creating an exceptional user experience within a medical technology company required some thinking outside the box. Instead of “throwing the design over the fence” to the next discipline and focusing only on usability, we needed to create a way of working conducive to creating the user experience we wanted.
First, we tore down the silos between human factors, visual, industrial design and added the interaction design discipline. Second, we pooled design methodologies across disciplines to understand how different design languages would impact the product. Finally, we distilled our understanding of our audience into three common design goals: access, simplicity and confidence.
For example, simplicity was expressed by industrial design that focused on the use of honest materials and by creating the slim silhouette that makes XPorte easily movable. In the UI, simplicity was realized through designating “one tap for important features” “two taps for secondary features” as well as through automated imaging settings that reduced the number of adjustments needed. In visual design, uncluttered layouts and colorcoded modules, assisted in “wayfinding” throughout the system. Ultimately, we wanted the technology to disappear for our users becoming a tool that enabled them to spend more time with their patients.
Our customers have said the impact of XPorte will be enormous. For them, XPorte delivers:
? An all touchscreen, easilycleanable interface to reduce hospital infections.
? Familiar interaction patterns that reduce learning curves.
? A customizable interface that supports faster workflows.
? A user experience that seamlessly transitions between the physical and digital operation of the system.
? Hardware that is easily maneuvered to scan patients at their bedside, thereby avoiding long wait times and patient travel to other parts of the hospital.
? An onboard learning system that empowers users to develop or refresh their ultrasound skills.
? Excellent image quality that provides an alternative to much bigger, complicated and cumbersome systems.
? A potential alternative to more expensive, less safe imaging technologies like CT scans.
? A system that evangelizes ultrasound technology through its approachability, ease of use, and customization.