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Ergonomics pace medical design trends

Ergonomics pace medical design trends

A graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Chemistry, Shaw also received a Cardiovascular/Cardiopulmonary Technology degree from Santa Fe Community College and an MBA from San Jose State University. He has been at Acuson since 1988 (Siemens acquired Acuson in 2000). Among his responsibilities have been product management and product development in vascular and cardiology ultrasound. He has also held management positions in vascular and OB/GYN. He held similar positions at Meda-Sonics, a vascular ultrasound equipment manufacturer, including teaching Doppler ultrasound techniques and Doppler physics.

Improvements in productivity throughout an ultrasound or other medical department can ease manpower requirements. Ergonomics in design will help ease the shortage of specialists, and the total systems approach will improve work flow, says Shaw.

Design News: What are the most important technology trends today in medical device design?

Shaw: The phrase that comes to mind is ergonomic design. Another trend is to design total solutions that fit together with seamless, totally compatible architectures. We have created streamlined interactivity between operator, system controls, and the image. The market also demands the ability to store the complete digital exam, composed of static and dynamic clip images and calculations, and the facility to easily transfer this data to ultrasound-compatible picture archiving and communications systems, review workstations, or web browsers instantly for viewing at remote locations. So medical devices must be designed with operator ergonomics addressed, that are able to efficiently and effectively fit into the medical department's work environment, with similar user interfaces and fully connected to the department, hospital, and outside world.

Q: How will these trends impact tomorrow's medical products?

A: The attention to ergonomics will allow users of the ultrasound system to have a longer and more productive career and help ease the shortage of qualified sonographers that plagues the ultrasound community currently. The market demands excellent clinical performance that is simple, easy, and efficient with a definitive clinical outcome that is documented and repeatable. New technologies will need to take into account the workflow in an entire ultrasound department and the medical environment within the healthcare continuum.

Q: What products might we see in five years time?

A: Here at Siemens Ultrasound the question is, "What technologies might we see in five years time?" We invest in technologies that redefine ultrasound and its practice. One would look for technologies to further refine workflow and integrate ergonomic design principles, advance clinical performance, maintain and improve connectivity, and improve diagnostic confidence with still shorter exam times. We need to aggressively streamline the patient experience from registration through diagnosis to follow-up in the healthcare continuum.

Q: How do design engineers in one country meet medical regulations worldwide?

A: At Siemens Ultrasound, our Product Development and Marketing Teams are composed of multi-national members and clinicians to be certain we address design parameters from a global perspective. Our clinical test sites are balanced to reflect worldwide clinical experiences.

Q: What other considerations must be taken into account when designing medical products for global markets?

A: The platform must have local language keyboards and text, with appropriate language manuals and promotional materials. User profiles vary from country to country and demand a comprehensive and varied knowledge base to address the many global clinical and design needs.

Q: How are physician and surgeon concerns factored into a medical device?

A: All physician and sonographer needs are factored in based on interviews and visits to their clinical environment. The design is tested in-house and in the clinical environment with prototypes. Often designs are first tested on a computer screen with a virtual tour for the physician or sonographer to view and comment on. Next step would likely be a model of a prototype, then a working prototype device or feature. Input and revisions are incorporated all along the development cycle. The final product is usually tested first at selected sites that had a hand in developing the product.

Q: What are the keys to medical product innovation?

A: At Siemens Ultrasound we have Core Competency Groups and an Innovation Team that are focused on developing innovations that are grounded in solving clinical challenges and keeping us at the forefront of cutting edge technology that changes the way ultrasound is practiced. The Core Competency teams gather challenging clinical needs directly from clinicians, worldwide, and use a cross-functional team composed of engineers, clinicians and marketing to investigate and propose solutions. The team evaluates each solution both intellectually and in clinical practice before recommending a course of action for the company. Many Core Competency teams are active simultaneously in many clinical areas, so recommendations are evaluated for clinical impact and are prioritized accordingly.

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