Thursday, May 07, 2009

Close To The User: User Centered Design Improves Workflows In Radiology

Applying User Centered Design to medical equipmrnt ...

The software developers at Siemens Healthcare have come up with something special for customers employing Siemens PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) and RIS (Radiology Information System) software: Clinical staff members process their specific tasks via "role-based portals". These portal applications are tailored to the respective users and workplaces. Therefore, each application offers precisely those functions the staff member needs for his/her tasks. Siemens developed this portal concept according to the "User Centered Design" method. By combining the practical clinical experience of many customers and users with medical knowledge and modern user ergonomics, developers created an innovative user interface which demonstrably enhances radiology workflows. Three applications of this type are already on the market: The Syngo Portal Radiologist and Syngo Portal Referring Physician support efficient workflow for diagnostic processes relating to all aspects of radiology. Furthermore, Siemens recently introduced the Syngo Portal Transcriptionist, which simplifies the transcription of medical texts for transcriptionists and secretaries.

In order to design software as user-friendly as possible, developers must have specific knowledge of the user, his or her demands, workflows, and the individual process steps. For this reason, Siemens Healthcare introduced the "User Centered Design" method into the IT departments. According to this method, the first step is to analyze the diagnostic process. At this point it is determined which persons are involved in the workflow and which of their roles are important for software development. They are observed in their individual work environments and interviewed regarding their tasks. This may involve, for example, referring physicians, radiologists, technologists, transcriptionists, or even administrative employees. Therefore, participants include persons who either initiate the process or use the results from the process.

A further element in the method, the "Overview Use Case", describes the typical role player with respect to age, education, knowledge, characteristics, preferences, and work patterns. The objective is to portray each user group and its working environment as precisely as possible in order to provide the developer with as vivid an impression of the user as possible. Then the interactions of these persons with the medical-technical system are described and analyzed in the "User Goal Use Case". This results in the approach that is taken most often and makes the most sense, referred to as "main scenario" or "happy path", as well as possible alternative scenarios.

The final result of the development process is a software which fulfils its users' demands and can be operated as simply and quickly as possible. This could mean, for instance, measurably fewer pop-up screens, fewer clicks, shorter mouse paths, or displaying only the essential information on-screen. The 80 percent rule applies here: The information that is required in 80 percent of all cases is displayed on the screen immediately. All other information can be displayed via one more mouse click."    (Continued via Medical News Today)    [Usability Resources]

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