SpectralMD: Remote design during a pandemic
Idean was offered an incredible design opportunity during an extraordinary time—we were called in to design a wound imaging experience during the 2020 pandemic. The beginning of our work for SpectralMD coincided with the time when states were declaring lockdowns and companies were instating work-from-home policies.
Dallas-based start-up, SpectralMD, developed an advanced AI-powered imaging device called DeepView™ Wound Imaging System. Idean had helped design the UI for its first-generation device. They returned to us with a vision to redesign the wound assessment experience for an updated device with better portability, a smaller touchscreen, and faster imaging capabilities.
As an agency, we are used to adapting to the changing needs of clients and projects. But nothing prepared us for what the pandemic had in store. We’d originally planned to have 2-3 in-person clinical observations and 8-10 in-clinic interviews with nurses, doctors, and technicians. Suddenly, we couldn’t travel to Dallas anymore. Clinics and hospitals were out of bounds for observational research. It was impossible to recruit clinical users for interviews at short notice.
Taking research remote
We brainstormed alternatives and landed on a few workarounds. Working with subject matter experts and clinicians in the SpectralMD team, we learned how burn imaging is done in clinical settings. We ran a remote simulated clinical observation to understand the context of both, the physical and digital aspects of device usage.
One video camera feed gave us a wide-perspective of the simulated clinical setting—it allowed us to observe a clinician rolling the device in and positioning the imaging-head above a patient to photograph the wound. A phone-camera attached to the clinician’s forehead enabled us to observe how he interacted with the device touchscreens. A third Zoom connection enabled us to talk to the clinician directly and hear about his first-hand experience analyzing thousands of burn wounds.
A few phrases stood out to us as we sought to understand the landscape from medical professionals:
- “Make it so that I literally cannot screw it up”
- “Take out unnecessary buttons, unimportant info”
- “Give me instantaneous imaging feedback”
- “Keep data simple enough so that even a patient can look at it and understand it”
Designing the experience remotely
In eight fast-paced weeks, our team observed remote clinical simulations, ran validation tests, and delivered a seamless digital experience that helped clinicians make critical decisions during wound assessment and treatment. Armed with this knowledge, we set out to design error-free workflows that put the clinicians’ focus and attention where it matters most— the well-being and treatment of the patient.
Once the workflows were completed, it was time to test the designs. Eight clinical users remotely validated the digital experience of DeepView™ for us. We used videos of a 3D printed DeepView™ device to explain how it is rolled in and how the imaging-head works. Clickable prototypes and animations helped clarify the digital experience.
Surgeons, nurses, and technicians who tested the newly designed workflow called it “simple”, “user-friendly” and “as easy as it gets”. One surgeon expressed that “people from multiple disciplines can pick it up very quickly”. (The device may be used by researchers for clinical trials, by surgeons and nurses in operating rooms, or by lab technicians to take wound images.)
Satisfied with the results of our remote collaboration, testing, and iterations, we delivered a detailed report of our findings to support the FDA approval process of the imaging device.
Animations (below) help developers see the nuances of scrolling behavior. We carefully considered required vs. optional fields and suggested auto-populating patient information from electronic health records whenever possible.
This animation highlights DeepView’s rapid imaging capabilities using AI-based algorithms and a multi-spectral imaging sensor. The wide-angle view provides the context of where the wound exists (this is especially useful for less discernible body areas like the back). The close-up view shows you more details and the DeepView analysis highlights the non-healing parts of the wound in purple.
"Our goal was to take what we have now and make it far better – and Idean's work represents that. It is a big leap forward for our product and our image."Kevin Plant — Director, Software & Data Science at SpectralMD
A fruitful collaboration
Designing during a time filled with uncertainty meant working with fluid plans and constantly adapting to changing events, often in real-time. Our hope was to work with our clients to get the best possible results despite challenging circumstances. Our foremost intent, however, was to practice extreme empathy and sensitivity towards all healthcare professionals that we interacted with.
The immense support from the SpectralMD team, from recruiting participants to co-ordinating remote clinical simulations made this a rewarding client-agency collaboration and brought us one step closer to revolutionizing wound care.
Sunita leads hybrid design teams in fast-paced projects across industries like healthcare, education, e-commerce, transportation, and technology. She also develops and runs initiatives like Design Jams and Culture Workshops for Idean, San Francisco. Sunita holds a Bachelors degree in Architecture and a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from ITP, New York University.