Maddison were contracted to develop the Graphical User Interface (GUI) interaction and aesthetic design for a range of medical body scanner imaging systems including an MRI scanner, PET/CT and Digital X-ray. The brief was to dramatically improve the usability as well as develop a fresh, new look which would stand up well in comparison to existing big-name brands.
User interfaces for complex medical imaging systems have typically been designed from an engineer’s perspective to ensure all the functional aspects of the system can be adjusted, and information presented for decisions and actions. GUIs using this approach are then prototyped, with feedback from users employed to modify the system to better fit the user needs. The result of this is a non-intuitive GUI that is difficult to learn and confusing to use. They are often tailored to the “super-user” or senior consultant who may want to adjust many parameters, rather than the radiographer or technicians who use the system day-in day-out and want a simple set-up based around more basic parameters. Other approaches start with first gathering a deep understanding of the functional requirements (typically using in-house experts already familiar with most of the functions), then engaging with users before commencing the GUI design work. Whilst this methodology is better, it still approaches design in a way which is not user-centred.
Our client for this project wanted a market-changing, user focused system that would be a step change in usability for their range of products.
Research and Development
The approach Maddison took with this project was to first thoroughly understand the user environment, user needs and typical workflows before delving into the functional requirements of the system. In this way, we always had the users at the forefront of our mind; and, throughout the development work, we kept referring to the users we had met. We made sure we studied a variety of environments, and user-types, including high-throughput public hospitals and low-throughput private institutions.
Our approach, without the in-depth knowledge of how the MRI or PET/CT scanners worked, kept us focused on the user and human factors aspects. Developing an EN 62366 based usability specification for complex systems like these is a huge task; so, before this we wanted to map out typical workflows to get a framework in place that would match real users’ needs. We modelled up early stage wire-frame designs and then prototyped these with simple interactive tools to enable users to experience them and give feedback. Using this feedback helped us to evolve the designs and prototypes before supporting the usability specification and detailed design.
Based on the early wire-frame screen designs, we developed several ‘look and feel’ concepts to communicate the client’s core values for the product. These were then refined, and a single concept developed further including innovative graphical elements to help selection of scan types and display of patient positions.
The result was a market leading suite of Graphical User Interfaces for the various imaging modalities. They had a very professional, yet user friendly look and feel to them. The design was such that the user could easily navigate through the most common procedures from a clinical perspective and bring up more complex parameters and views when required. The system is easy to use by beginners but gives them the confidence and scope to smoothly progress to more proficient and expert use of these very complex and capable systems.