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Ultrasound as art: form follows function into the ED

GE Venue ultrasound

What does a GE Healthcare ultrasound have in common with a Tesla 3 and a pair of jeans?  All three were named in July among the winners of Australia’s annual Good Design Award, the country’s highest honour for design innovation.

Dr Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia, said, “At the heart of all the winning projects is a problem–big or small–that was solved through clever, considered and meaningful design that will have a positive impact on our lives and our planet.”

For the GE team behind the Venue ultrasound system, the challenge was to find a way to enable physicians to make faster and more accurate diagnoses.  With an average of 22,000 emergency department visits across Australia every day, clinicians are overloaded, and patients forced to wait longer for treatment.  Any time saved in assessing potentially life-threatening conditions can mean an enormous difference.

“The goal with Venue was to develop a product that really fit into the environment of critical care and emergency room departments and build a system that solved a clinical problem and actually develop a tool set so that physicians could focus on the patient and not on the equipment, ” said Cindy Owen, GE Director of Clinical Insights and Development for point-of-care ultrasound.

Fundamental to the solution was user-centered design. The team gathered input from customers via surveys, focus group sessions and site visits across seven countries, resulting in a simpler and more intuitive interface.

According to GE Healthcare Design Architect Bob Meurer, when collaborating with physicians “we’re looking and listening for opportunities to improve the user experience, ultimately making their lives– and their patients’ lives– easier on a day-to-day, sometimes even minute-to-minute, basis.”  Meurer said observing emergency departments in action was an important part of the development process.

“Often what users told us was different than what they actually did!” said Meurer.

The attention to details, such as a colour-coded battery life indicator and storage to prevent cords from getting tangled or caught on other equipment, hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Dr Adam O’Brien, Paediatric Emergency Physician at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, said, “The cable management is one of the main reasons we got the Venue. With our other machines, we have ongoing problems with damaged cords.”

GE Good Design Award

GE Healthcare regional ultrasound leader Mat Jones and marketing leader Daniel Morris at the Good Design Award ceremony in Sydney in July.

Mat Jones, GE regional ultrasound leader, accepted the award in Sydney on behalf of the team.  “This award reinforces the belief that our team and our customers already hold, that the Venue represents a huge leap forward in point-of-care ultrasound technology, and that the many years of design, planning and testing to develop this unique product were worth it.”

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