The SOMATOM go. computer tomography (CT) platform, co-developed by international design and innovation consultancy designaffairs and Siemens Healthineers, introduces a completely new concept in the CT arena—every aspect of the platform, from its physical design to its controls, has been designed in collaboration with users to expertly and exactly meet their needs.
The platform comprises four CT scanners—SOMATOM go.Now, SOMATOM go.Up, SOMATOM go.All, and SOMATOM go.Top—and is suitable for both the establishment of new radiology departments and the expansion of existing facilities. It has a smaller footprint, is easier to set up, is more flexible and has a wider range of features than previous solutions and – importantly – introduces an innovative “Guide&Go” navigation technology feature which makes it possible for even novices to set up and operate the scanner … and achieve consistently high-quality scan results.
“What differentiates the SOMATOM go. platform is that it has been designed not just for, but with the medical staff, operators and patients that use it,” says André Hartung, General Manager, CT at Siemens Healthineers. “As a result, it addresses a growing global issue that legacy solutions, with their complex setup and controls, cannot.
“In medical facilities the world over, case numbers and workloads are increasing,” he explains. “At the same time, healthcare budgets and medical aid fund benefits are being cut. It is thus becoming increasingly important to develop medical technology that is more efficient and cost effective; that makes the work of medical staff easier, improves the experience of patients and, simultaneously, delivers quality outputs at speed. The key elements we need to achieve this are increased ease and flexibility of use, automation, high equipment (scan and diagnostic) standards, and maximum comfort for the patients.
“With the SOMATOM go. platform, the human design-centered and agile development approach we used has enabled us to deliver on all of these requirements – and it’s resulted in a platform that will revolutionize the CT market, setting the pace for a next generation of CT solutions.”
Designing the SOMATOM go. platform
The SOMATOM go. platform was developed by designaffairs and Siemens Healthineers over a period of five years. The goal was to create a platform that was suitable for entry-level CT use, but could also be used in hospitals that were already equipped with several CT scanners and wanted to expand their facilities. Aside from the acquisition cost of the device, diagnostic efficiency, operation and workflow, and patient comfort, were the main aspects considered by designaffairs and Siemens Healthineers during the development and design phases.
The challenges: High-quality diagnostics, cost efficiency, easy operation, and patient comfort.
Hartung puts the CT platform design challenge into context: “Siemens Healthineers works with hospitals in Europe, China, India and Latin America, among others. They offer different levels of healthcare and levels of staff training and education vary significantly among countries. A critical requirement for the design of this CT platform was therefore to ensure that, regardless of whether users were CT experts or not, they could acquire a good diagnostic quality scan with our equipment.”
“This meant that the CT scanner workflow had to be as easy as possible. Our goals were thus to create a product that offered cost-efficient high quality outputs, but also featured quick-to-learn, intuitive operation and standardized workflows.”
“Another important design feature was patient comfort. In terms of aesthetics, the design of the platform had to be attractive, create a pleasant atmosphere, and convey a sense of safety. To address this, technical details, such as light effects, were incorporated to generate positive emotions. On a practical level, the surfaces of the equipment had to be easy to clean and sterilize to comply with the high hygiene standards in healthcare environments.
“And then there were cost and implementation issues to consider. Hospitals and radiology centers could benefit from a flexible room concept. In the past, several rooms have been required to accommodate the scanner, the control unit, and additional technology. With space at a premium in hospitals, we wanted to be able to install the SOMATOM go. in a single room with just a screened corner required to protect the radiological personnel.”
It starts with the customer
“The first question we asked ourselves as we began development of the SOMATOM go. series was: What are the needs of this very special customer segment?,” notes Hartung.
As part of the co-creation process, Siemens Healthineers consulted with more than 500 radiologists, radiologist assistants, chief financial officers, patients, and doctors from various countries. With a strong relationship already established with Siemens Healthineers, designaffairs got involved in the SOMATOM go. project at this early conceptual stage.
“Our involvement at this early stage was necessary and made sense,” says Gerd Helmreich, Managing Director at designaffairs. “Among others, the feedback received from stakeholders provided our designers with important information on how the bed, gantry and other components must be arranged, what materials should be used and how the outer enclosure should be designed to create a compact device.”
Prior to engagement with the solution stakeholders, designaffairs had conducted an analysis of the CT market using the SimuPro® and Design Style Observation (DSO) research tools. This gave the team insight into the brand values of Siemens Healthineers and provided a review of the existing products in terms of stylistic design characteristics. Based on these findings, and the inputs of stakeholders, the team created a basic design of the SOMATOM go. platform.
In the customer discovery phase that followed, the pain points of the customers operating in the CT environment became the focus. These were identified by Siemens Healthineers and designaffairs in anonymous discussions with customers. This user research indicated that easy operation and the reliability of the CT scanner were rated most important by the customers.
With these results in hand, Siemens Healthineers prepared an initial briefing for designaffairs.
This co-creation working method determined the subsequent design process.
Agile iteration for fast, effective outcomes
“Usually, our customers approach us with a very specific idea of what they want from us,” says Helmreich. “The process we followed on the SOMATOM go. project was different for two reasons: first, because we incorporated the ideas and wishes of various users into the briefing, and second because the product was created using an agile process.”
In real terms, this meant that Siemens Healthineers and designaffairs developed potential solutions for a new CT concept in the co-creation workshops that followed, and continually optimized them based on direct customer feedback.
“We approached the final result gradually in small cycles,” explains Helmreich. “This approach ensures that the product is not only created for the users, but in close partnership with them, with constant modification over an extended period to ensure it fits their expectations exactly.”
In the Usability Labs, Siemens Healthineers and designaffairs used prototypes to gradually arrive at the final product. In the labs, customers tested the handling and functionality of the CT scanner models, suggesting improvements. Technical details, such as joint design, illumination, ventilation and cable outlets, were tested and the product design adapted to meet customer requirements by designaffairs.
The Design Freeze, in which all design elements, such as color, surfaces and shapes of the CT scanner are finalized, marked the transition from prototype to the final product.
Based on the drawings, 3D specifications and models as well as the material and color specifications, designaffairs placed the order for the production of the new scanners with the manufacturers.
Initially, two of the four scanner variants were produced and launched in 2017. These were:
- SOMATOM go.Now, a CT scanner geared towards radiology service providers that are in the process of establishing a new CT department; and
- SOMATOM go.Up, a CT scanner that permits lung scans, among others, and can be used to expand existing radiology facilities.
Production of the SOMATOM go.All and SOMATOM go.Top, the two most powerful scanners, followed.
“All four products of the new platform are low-dose CT scanners. They are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as our specialist tin filters, which was previously only available on our high-end models,” Hartung explains. “Entry-level models equipped with this advanced technology are not often found in the market.”
In addition, the footprint of the platform has been consolidated to meet the space constraints of hospitals. On request, the platform can be installed in a single room.
Guide&Go-an important usability differentiator
User friendly operation was the most important factor for the new SOMATOM go. platform. It was vital to ensure that the technology would not create additional barriers, but rather make work easier, even for less experienced personnel. In close cooperation with the users, the design team created various technological solutions that offered a patient-centered workflow.
Minimally invasive imaging procedures are increasingly used in medicine today. It is thus important to ensure optimal integration of the CT workflows during the planning and implementation of surgical interventions. To achieve this, designaffairs focused on the development of an intuitive, quick-to-learn solution. The result is Guide&Go.
The system comprises a tablet that is mounted on a bracket directly at the CT scanner. It displays all the details required for an examination and guides users intuitively through individual work steps, showing them what they need to do.
We value the expertise and design competence of designaffairs in the area of medical products—they develop advanced concepts and work with a high customer focus. This is very important to us, especially in co-creation processes.
With the SOMATOM go. project, our cooperation has once again proved successful.
“With Guide&Go, we have developed a solution that offers multiple degrees of freedom to medical workers,” says Helmreich. “There is now no need for staff to move between the scanner and a control room—all the computer hardware is now integrated into the scanner and can be controlled via the tablet. In addition, the tablet is mobile, allowing operators to physically hold the device while they move flexibly around the room, or secure it on the scanner so that they can be close to the patient at all times. This design is unique.”
“With Guide&Go, we can make treatment more pleasant for the patient, facilitate a mobile, intuitive process for the staff, and reduce installation and overhead costs at facilities,” says Hartung.
“We are delighted that, together with designaffairs, we were able to create something completely new in the imaging and diagnostics area,” notes Hartung.