In the coming decade, experts predict1 that orthopedic surgical practices will be flooded with patients who have spinal diseases and injuries – many of whom are older and overweight. As healthcare providers struggle to meet this growing demand, there are key trends that I believe will have a huge impact on helping them improve the efficiency and efficacy of their open and minimally invasive surgery. The first trend I’d like to talk about is usability, because it becomes even more important as patient numbers rise and proceduresbecome more complex.
Good usability can make a critical difference
Have you ever pulled on a door handle that is marked “push”? Or turned a device off when you meant to turn it on? If you have experienced these things in your everyday life, you know how important it is to get design right. When it comes to using medical equipment during surgery, pushing the right button at the right moment could even be a matter of life and death.
Usability is one of the top three requirements that come up when I talk to hospital administrators and clinical staff about what they require in their imaging equipment.
In orthopedic surgery, as the volume of patients increases and orthopedic professionals adopt new open and minimally invasive techniques, good usability will become even more critical. It’s something we are very aware of at Philips in the design of our mobile and fixed C-arms. This medical imaging equipment is used by a variety of individual users and teams during orthopedic procedures.
For our mobile C-arms, for example, two people are often using the system, each standing in a different position, and they may have to reposition the C-arm dozens of times during a spinal fixation procedure. That is why usability can make a critical difference.
Intensifying efforts in usability design bility can make a critical difference
At Philips we have always systematically incorporated human factors and usability factors throughout our product development and user evaluation process. In recent years, we have stepped up our efforts in this area, and this has contributed to better workflow, time savings and X-ray dose management during procedures.
Our Veradius Unity mobile C-arm is a good example of great usability in action. It incorporates tablet simplicity and highly guided positioning to re-define teamwork during orthopedic surgical imaging. In an independent usability study3 that was performed, Veradius Unity scored very high on the following points:
94% first time right positions during repositioning tasks
45% less miscommunication
45% fewer movements in the wrong direction
The value of ease-of-use
One story we heard recently about the selection process for a new mobile C-arm was at the Orthopädische Universitätsklinik Friedrichsheim (OUF) in Frankfurt, Germany. “Time is money, especially in the OR," says OUF orthopedic surgeon, Dr. med. Christoph Theis. He appreciates the ease of use of the Veradius Unity for his busy department. “Everything is intuitive and well organized on the system,” he says. “All of our employees, the OR assistants and operators, are able to work with the system very fast. In a large hospital like ours, ease-of-use and reliability are critical.”
Another recent example is our Azurion fixed C-arm system. During its development, we partnered with NAMSA to carry out a comprehensive study to evaluate the enhanced usability and workflow of the Azurion at one of the first hospitals to install the new system, St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.
Standardization is key
Standardization is also key to good usability for hospitals that have many different clinical users and imaging systems in one department. It reduces the need for training for different users and enables them to be more adept in using the systems. Our pursuit will always be to incorporate standardization as a significant aspect, while ensuring our systems offer personalization to each user according to their needs. All these efforts are geared towards making our systems easy to use for our customers to support them in providing excellent patient care.
I recently read an article about the incoming ISO 13485:2016 standard for medical devices, which underscores that this topic is even more relevant than ever. It emphasizes the need for usability engineering as a mandatory design input. That’s why I believe that new approaches to improving usability are one of the key trends to watch in 2018 for orthopedic surgery.
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1Sources available in infographic
3 Results obtained during user tests performed in November 2013 by Use-Lab GmbH, an independent company. The tests involved 30 USA based clinicians (15 physicians teamed up with 15 nurses or X-ray technicians), who performed simulated procedures in a simulated OR environment. None of them had worked with a Philips C-arm or with each other before.
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