At Philips Healthcare Interventional X-Ray I had the chance to contribute to the design of user interface prototypes for the next generation of medical software for radiologists.
2012 September - 2013 August
The goal of my project was to create an adequate user interface for a new X-Ray software application for tumour biopsies and removals. I interned and worked at the Interventional X-ray department under the coaching of Anke Kets and Ina Klein Tesselink.
My concept for the user interface aimed at making the software learnable, which was found to be the real bottleneck in making it successful among the target audience. Image guidance can really empower radiologists by extending their senses, however, the technology is complex, the UI may seem intimidating or complicated to learn.
The Interventional X-ray Innovation department develops medical image guidance technologies for minimally invasive radiology procedures. They are an intermediary between scientific research and product development. They pick up the promising inventions from Philips Research, develop the concepts to prove their clinical viability, and hand them over to the Product Development department for market release.
Most projects develop advanced image guidance provided by XperCT, a rotational X-Ray system that creates CT-like 3D images, within much less time and with less radiation dose than CT. This imaging technique is used for all sorts of radiology procedures, each of these have their own dedicated software application, which adjusts the XperCT functionality to the specific clinical workflow.
My project's topic was a new software, which provides an 3D X-ray view of the human body during tumour biopsies or ablations (removals). This view is crucial for the interventional radiologist to correctly guide the needle to the tumour.
Research and design process of the interface
First, as an intern, my responsibility was to turn the first rough technical prototype into an interface that is testable and usable by physicians. This was achieved by analysing and physician's tasks during the procedure, envisioning a user experience of learnability, and proposing adequate UI solutions for the clarified clinical workflow. Later, as an interaction designer, I was involved in the implementation of the UI in the fully functional prototype (based on the company's standard WPF platform) for usability evaluations and hospital testing, which was part of the CE and FDA approval process.
During the process the real challenge was to understand the doctor's workflow during different procedures that can be performed with the software. The number of functions that were available in various steps of the procedure needed to be reduced, so the doctor's cognitive load was in balance between his digital and physical tasks, i.e. UI interaction and patient handling.
The following photos illustrate the most important steps of the design process, including: observing procedures, interviewing expert users, clinical workflow analysis, experience flow mapping, UI error analysis, wireframe sketching, UI mockup building.
The details of the functionality and final results are confidential.
Learning points from the medical industry
Being involved in the software's year-long development was beneficial for my skills especially in detail design, iterative UI prototyping, and professional communication in a multidisciplinary team. I had the chance to work together with expert users and clinical scientists, and to prepare for medical approval processes, including usability testing.