Wireframes and the user interface of Cydar Medical in surgery

Improving patient experience

We went into the operating theatre with Cydar to enhance their visualisation system for endovascular surgery with the goal of improving patient experience.

The challenge
  • Design the user interface for technology used during endovascular surgery.
  • Executing digital design within a surgical workflow.
Our approach 
  • Immersive research inside the operating theatre.
  • Work closely with surgeons, radiographers, and surgical support staff to understand limitations of the first-generation product.

Cydar, a leading provider of cloud-based visualisation software in healthcare.

Project type

Interface design

Design in an extraordinary context

Cydar are a leading provider of cloud-based services that fuse images of patient data with live X-ray images to provide real-time 3D visualisations of endovascular systems. Using their services reduces radiation risks and exposure to chemicals for patients, enhances surgical workflow and dramatically improves patient outcomes. 

Cydar knew from their customers that the system used in operating theatres needed significant usability and user experience improvements, and so they asked Foolproof to work with them to understand the opportunities.

Through observation and interviews with surgeons, radiographers, and support staff we used principles of user-centred design to design, test, and iterate improvements to the interface and visualisation system - in the extraordinary context of the operating theatre. 

To get close enough see the context-of-use through the eyes of practitioners we had to learn the vocabulary of surgery in this field. We also got inside the operating theatre to observe the workflows of surgical teams during surgery.

Doctors and Consultants reviewing endovascular images

Gathering critical insight

Initial stakeholder workshops at Cydar’s Cambridgeshire HQ enabled us to understand the business context and agree the goals for design. It was also our introduction to the unique complexity of the system and user’s context.

A series of interviews with surgeons already using the system in two UK hospitals, helped us to evaluate their current experience and gather critical insights. Quickly, it became clear that the surgical users had a very low tolerance for unnecessary ‘clutter’ and non-critical functionality, and clear opinions on what they needed from the system to help them make better decisions.

In these interviews and in subsequent testing it was very important that we spoke using the language of their practice. While a steep learning curve for our researchers and designers, it established a level of trust that was invaluable and facilitated a much deeper level of understanding.

Surgical UI wireframe sketch with vertebrae
Surgical UI wireframe sketch

Context driven design

The most revealing research was conducted during live surgery, to understand how surgeons interacted with the system during an operation. The learnings from surgery revealed fundamental environmental and behavioural insights that had significant impact on the design that could simply not be evaluated through interview alone.

Taking the insights from research, we sketched initial concepts for interface components and screens which we tested with surgeons, and then evolved into high-fidelity screens and a prototype. In testing the prototype, we discovered that the smallest elements of the interface had the biggest impact and provided most value to the surgeons, which forced us to focus on micro-interactions that we may have completely overlooked.

At its core the project was all about applying solid experience design method in extraordinary new environments, with a whole new vocabulary, while relentlessly focusing on surgical outcomes. Or, as Tom Carrell co-founder of Cydar commented, ‘ultimately, it is all about improving the patient experience’.

“The proof of the project’s success lies in the adoption of the Cydar EV product by our customers into routine clinical use.”
Tom CarrellCEO, Cydar

Widespread clinical adoption

Since this projects’ completion we have continued to support Cydar with other elements of their range of products. This includes further refining the experience surgeons have with Cydar’s range of surgical tools.

  • Activities

    Qualitative research, depth interviews, prototyping, information architecture, user interface design, interaction design.

  • Delivery

    Iterative research and design sprints on a two-week cycle.

Get in touch

We'd be very happy to talk through more examples of our work.

Contact Ed Walker, Business Development Director on ed@foolproof.co.uk.

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