Improving the quality of healthcare is becoming increasingly important and urgent as patient numbers grow, cost pressures mount and skills dwindle. Working smarter is non-negotiable.
In collaboration with Siemens Healthineers, design consultancy designaffairs has developed an innovative solution that helps take CT scan processes to the next level to meet these challenges: the mobile workflow!
Siemens Healthineers is a leading supplier of computer tomography (CT) equipment. In the development of its SOMATOM go CT scanner platform, it wanted to ensure that it not only delivered more efficient and accurate scans but a higher quality experience for medical staff and patients.
To understand the design challenges, designaffairs analysed typical CT scanning processes. It quickly became clear that there were too many touchpoints and that the workflow was not streamlined.
If you are lucky enough to never have had a CT scan, here’s what the process looks like:
The CT scan is traditionally handled in two separate rooms. The first contains the CT scanner. It’s shielded to protect people outside the room from radiation. The second is the control room where the scanning process is set up, data is processed and the scan is observed. The rooms are connected by a door and a window. Once the patient is placed on the table, the table is positioned using a set of buttons mounted on the scanner. The nurse then leaves the room to start the scan. The scan is monitored on a computer in the control room. When it is completed, the patient leaves and the scanner is prepared for the next exam.
The main touchpoints in the process are: the patient on the table, the control panel on the scanner, the computer in the control room and the “control box”, a wired remote control which duplicates the functionality of the control panel and is placed in the control room. As all these elements are positioned quite far apart, walking from one to the other contributes significantly to the time taken to complete the scan process. It also keeps the nurse away from the patient, preventing the desired human contact during what can be a frightening experience for the patient.
With the development of the SOMATOM go CT scanner platform, designaffairs had the opportunity to help Siemens Healthineers re-think this workflow to increase patient throughput and provide a higher level of care.
The new workflow only contains mobile control elements: a wireless remote and a tablet computer. These devices allow the technician to move around while maintaining control of the scanner at all times. The devices can also be docked on the scanner, giving the technician the ability to adapt the workflow to his/her preferences.
Two other adaptations further differentiate the SOMATOM go solution:
The computer which controls the CT scanner is embedded into the machine itself. This does away with the need to place a networked desktop computer into the control room, speeding up installation and making the SOMATOM go system truly plug-and-play.
The final adaptation is the realisation of a unique ‘niche’ concept. It put the technician behind a protective lead glass shield in the same room as the CT scanner. This makes the control room obsolete. The ‘niche’ provides the same level of protection from radiation but brings the technician much closer to the patient, even allowing for direct eye contact during the scan. The whole scan setup can be done on the touch-sensitive interface of the tablet, right next to the patient. During the actual scan, the tablet can be taken behind the glass panel to observe the scan.
The changes brought to the CT scanning workflow have delivered huge improvements: the technician’s movement across the room is reduced dramatically, the technician is always very close to the patient and the state-of-the-art control elements finally meet the standards set by personal electronic devices.
This is a radical departure from previous CT scan process models and resets the benchmark for CT scan workflow, helping to not just drive efficiency but put ‘care’ back into healthcare.
The SOMATOM go CT platform, developed as a modular system, is very accessible. It is possible for healthcare providers to start with a simpler and cheaper CT configuration and expand as needs change.
This makes high-quality healthcare available to even more people.