Humanizing breakthroughs

Technology, product design, and user interface design are three parts of the same story. While the technology is largely invisible, an appealing look and feel as well as an intuitive user interface enable technologists and patients to enjoy a human-like interaction with this innovation.

Doris Pischitz
Published on September 28, 2022

Therefore, when creating the look and feel of the next-generation computed tomography (CT) scanner, the design team at Siemens Healthineers set about the task of making photon-counting CT tangible and more human.

The team tackled this challenge by putting both the user and the patient at the center of design decisions – discussing steps and features with representatives from these groups.

One wish that is regularly expressed by staff is that the system should be intuitive to use and at the same time less intimidating for patients. For the patient, this also means easy access to the exam position, for example via a low and easily adjustable table position. The lowest table height of 32 centimeters also makes it easy for staff to help their patients transfer to the system.

Patient anxiety is another issue that can impede exam results. Besides the well-structured system and the smooth-opening funnel, an additional lighting system at the gantry aims to help patients feel at ease during the scan.

At University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, approximately 40 patients are examined each day with NAEOTOM Alpha1. Listen to Beate Kolb, head technologist for computed tomography, explain how her patients experience the scan.

Embedded hygienic design principles such as reduced detail complexity and slanting surfaces allow for proper cleaning of the system. This has always been an important requirement, even more so in times of COVID-19.

What has been promised on the hardware design level has to be continued coherently on the software and user interface level. Imaging systems from Siemens Healthineers feature a coherent usability concept and unified interfaces across all modalities. Built-in expertise guides the users through exams and helps them interact intuitively and naturally with the system. This simplifies users’ tasks greatly and helps them to tap the full potential of the technology.

However, new functionalities required certain adaptations to the user interface. Features such as workspace-specific design, patient-centric navigation, and an integrated desktop-to-mobile support with tablet computers are key contributors to the photon-counting CT workflow.

Beate Kolb, head technologist for computed tomography at University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, talks about her experience of the new functionalities on the user interface.

Users who are not yet experienced in spectral imaging receive automated suggestions as to which spectral imaging settings are appropriate for which patient. These are based on the procedure and patient characteristics. They help them find the optimal combination of acquisition and reconstruction parameters for standardized results. Depending on factors such as patient size, expected compliance with breathing instructions, or indication, the protocol settings are automatically adapted.

Experienced users can configure these protocols fast and intuitively themselves. In this expert mode, they benefit from high flexibility in modifying the predefined protocols as well as from the option to integrate their knowledge into standardized protocols and make them available to all users across their institution.

Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, features a fleet of seven CT scanners with the photon-counting system as the flagship. CT radiographer and technologist Marcel Dijkshoorn talks about how the system is used in his daily work.

As mentioned, the gantry itself also features easy-to-use touch interfaces that can be operated by the technologist while staying at the patient’s side to prepare the actual exam and protocols on the system. The tablet mirrors the functionalities and user interface of the workstation in the control room. Technologists do not have to run back and forth between the system and the control room but can talk to the patients and calm them down if they are nervous or they can clarify instructions if patients do not understand them immediately.

Listen to our podcast to understand what silver dots have to do with photon-counting CT

The secrets of CT: Photon-counting | Healthcare Perspectives
Healthcare Perspectives
The secrets of CT: Photon-counting | Healthcare Perspectives
Listen to learn about the limitations of traditional CT scanners and how modern scanners have overcome them. You’ll also hear about photon-counting and the impact it has on image quality. Additionally, you’ll find out the role that artificial intelligence can play in sorting and analyzing the large amount of data that modern CT scanners produce.

By Doris Pischitz
Doris Pischitz is an editor in corporate communications at Siemens Healthineers. The team specializes in topics related to healthcare, medical technology, disease areas, and digitalization.