While working with the EXO Imaging ultrasound imaging platform, we knew that to increase its usability, we must get into doctors’ shoes. What did contextual research say about their work and were the UX changes necessary?
What is EXO?
It is the ultrasound platform for medical imaging, which supports medics during heart examinations. It also gathers information from echocardiographic tests to develop a training program for young cardiologists. A specially designed app visualises the conduct of the test and facilitates work with the device.
Understanding the problem
To provide a high-quality healthcare solution we needed a deep understanding of medics’ inconveniences while using the device. That is why Kasia – our UX expert, decided to visit a hospital in Łódź and start contextual research. She spent time observing and consulting the work of a doctor using the apparatus. The conclusions set the direction of our work.
Observing the process
Ultrasound tests required the doctor to do a lot of things at a time. She was using both hands to manipulate the probe and use the scanner’s panel. With a leg, she was pressing a special pedal to mark moving on to the next step of the examination. On top of that, the doctor needed to monitor information on the screen and notice sound signals made by the device. Each iteration was repeated 10 times and every mistake could spoil the test. The whole process had a lot of room for improvement.
That is how the interface looked before the redesign:
Seeking an improvement
Our UX designer found out that the device displays too much information at the same time. Therefore, making navigating among everything on the screen tiring for the doctor. Some of the elements were not necessary all the time and could have been hidden. We hid unnecessary components and moved them to the drop-down menu so they could be accessed when needed. As a result, the screen became more clear and easier to look at.
The doctor’s primary focus was on the patient. Thus, sometimes she was away from the monitor. It gave the researcher a clear signal that some of the elements on the screen are too small and hard to read. We enlarged key components of the interface to broaden the area of their visibility. Consequently, using the device became more convenient regardless of the place.
The interface with bigger elements:
Every step of the test recording was marked by a colour and a sound. It appeared that those aren’t characteristic enough, making it hard to differentiate between specific steps. We decided to increase the contrast of the colours and change sounds to be more distinctive. Hence making it easier to coordinate work with the device.
When it comes to the pedal, the researcher spotted that it creates a great inconvenience for the doctor. It was badly placed and hard to press. That is why we changed the placement of the pedal and increased its responsivity. It allowed us to increase the ease with which the doctor used it and improve her comfort.
After the redesign, the app has a clearer interface highlighting the most important elements:
Finally, we introduced a series of smaller changes. Observing the doctor’s work let us conclude which of the interface elements are being used most often. We chose to focus on those elements.
Every iteration had to be repeated 10 times. We highlighted the number of currently performed iteration and showed the following step. We also decided to bring out the graphic element showing on which step the doctor is. It gave the examiner a clear image of how much work is left.
Lastly, we emphasised elements of the interface connected with the pedal. This way we minimalised the chance of mistakenly performing the wrong step.
Increasing work efficiency
All those changes add up to a huge improvement in work efficiency. Numbers speak for themselves. We were able to increase the number of daily ultrasound imaging tests by 40%. Moreover, user interface adjustments reduced the frequency of mistake occurrence, which means that fewer tests need to be started over again or thrown away. Nevertheless, the most rewarding outcome of our work was the doctor’s gratitude for making her job easier and less tiring.
Thanks to contextual research, we could immerse ourselves in the doctors’ work and understand the problems they face every day while using the device. The research brought observations and conclusions that have led to interface improvements. With them, we could facilitate work with the EXO platform and increase its effectiveness. To learn more about the technologies behind EXO Imaging project, read EXO case study.