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First Smartphone Designed for Medical Staff

Alarm fatigue is one of the biggest safety risks in the field of healthcare today. To counteract this, Ascom is creating a smartphone designed for nurses.

Imagine a quieter ward, where staff are not being disturbed by each other’s patient alarms. As a nurse, all you have to do is glance down at the Ascom Myco’s upper display in your pocket to decide how to deal with an incoming alarm. Or switch on the big screen to read it and do more. If you’re busy, you can click the alarm on to a free colleague. You can now receive cardiac curves and look at them on your phone, making an instant decision about the cause and seriousness. Scanning labels when issuing medicines no longer requires you to run and pick up an unwieldy laser scanner. You do it with the Ascom Myco, which you’re carrying with you.

Making the move from traditional phones to build a smartphone from scratch with a totally new interface is a major challenge. No surprise that the Myco is Ascom’s biggest-ever project. The hospital environment also places extremely specific, strict demands on durability and usage. To succeed, they had to manage the project flexibly and focus on usage. Contact with real users was also a characteristic of the whole project. The basic product concept emerged through shadowing and interviews with healthcare staff. Usage tests with interactive prototypes in the hospital environment were performed frequently in order to allow ideas to meet reality as soon and as mercilessly as possible. Changing a prototype is cheap, but it’s expensive once the product has been launched. Some ideas were rejected, others enhanced or redesigned to make the next iteration better. The tests served as a sounding board with reality.

Early on in the project, prototype apps were run on purchased Sony mobiles with corresponding screens and performance. These were cut down to fit into the 3D-printed case with the same shape as the Ascom Myco. This was good enough to be able to test the basic interface concepts out in hospitals all over the world. Basic clickable prototype smartphones were also used by the UX team to test and communicate ideas within the project and with developers.

To keep the project agile, Ascom held brief daily video meetings via Lync in which team members in Sweden and abroad could see each other’s faces. Instead of detailed specifications, basic documentation, graphics and simple prototypes were used by way of support, supplemented with close communication by Skype. This meant that the team could deal with rapid change according to changing conditions without drowning in cumbersome documentation work.

At inUse we are very proud to be part of a project with such vast potential to make the everyday lives of healthcare staff easier. It’s also great to work with an organization in which the user’s experience has such a big influence on decisions. We have been part of the UX team at Ascom for a couple of years, securing the user experience through the creation of prototypes, management of requirements, design, and testing. We’ve also been coaching Ascom to build the UX and strategy (including impact mapping) by using agile development methods.

inUse have given us tremendous support. Their extensive experience of mobile design, how they link strategy and user perspective to the product, has helped us to make rapid progress.

– Martin Huss, Manager Functionality Myco