UX design in a surgical environment

Application of leading edge technology has always been associated with the practice of medicine. In recent years, this has included the introduction of robotic technologies and other, computerized, interactive, screen-based technologies in the surgical environment.

The surgical suite is a unique and increasingly crowded environment. The members of the surgical team, technicians and manufacturer’s representatives, the patient, the tools and equipment all require adequate space to perform their functions. Traffic flow has to be maintained in the room, around the patient and equipment. The sterile field has to be maintained. The surgical team needs clear, unobstructed access to the patient, the tools, and the technology assisting in the procedure.

The introduction of computerized, interactive, screen-based technologies and surgical robots has improved the quality of care for the patient, but it has also lead to a more complex work environment for the surgical team. Surgeons need both hands to perform surgery, handle tools, manipulate patient anatomy, etc. Nurses and anesthesiologists are equally busy doing their jobs. Interacting with a mouse, keyboard, joystick, touch screen, or PDA often isn’t an option.

There’s another big consideration as well: when advanced, interactive technology is introduced into a surgical environment, who is the user? The surgeon? Another member of the surgical team? A trained technician? The patient? What if the answer is all of the above? How does that impact the design of the interface and overall user experience?

The EchoViz team will discuss many of the challenges they have encountered working in this environment as researchers and designers. They will offer practical advice, interesting visuals and an engaging story or two. They will share their experiences and tell you why they believe this is the most exciting and meaningful place for user experience designers to work.

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