Wednesday, January 10, 2007

GE Goes Back to School for Innovation

Designing medical products for better usability, productivity, and effectiveness ...

... "It's a first, however, for General Electric's health-care unit, which sells $15 billion a year worth of clunky X-ray machines, CAT-scan machines, and ultrasound testing equipment. The health-care division has long been a technology innovator. But it has historically tried to differentiate its products by getting better and faster readings from its instruments—"feeds and speeds" as Lou Lenzi, the general manager of global design at GE Healthcare, puts it. So turning to art school students for ideas is a significant departure.

Good for Patients and Profits
But to compete now, the company believes that it has to offer more than just better technology. GE wants to make medical tests easier on both the patients and the operators of the equipment, which means focusing on the human side of the equation, from ergonomics to emotions. How, for instance, could a traditionally monstrous CAT scan machine be designed to seem less ominous to patients already distressed by their medical condition? How could a machine be easier for the technician to use?

In addition to the primary human-centered goals, such design improvements should translate into more accurate readings and a leg up on rival manufacturers. "All of our competitors have similar technology," admits Lawrence Murphy, the health-care unit's chief designer. "We're looking beyond the hardware. We're looking at the patient's journey."    (Continued via Business Week)    [Ergonomics Resources]

A More Comfortable Ultrasound - Ergonomics

A More Comfortable Ultrasound

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