In the case of the Planmed Verity 3-D extremity scanner, subtlety actually is its strong suit. Manufactured by Planmed Oy (Helsinki Finland), the medical device is designed to identify subtle extremity fractures--which are the most-often-missed fractures--at the point of care. Thanks to this innovative functionality, coupled with a sleek design, the scanner took home top honors at the 2012 Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) as a gold winner in the radiological and electromechanical device category in addition to earning the coveted title of best in show.
When evaluating MDEA submissions, jurors look at whether a medical device is innovative, is well designed, and offers a real benefit to the patient and the user, according to MDEA juror and principal at Design Science, Stephen B. Wilcox. "I--and the majority of the committee--felt that the Planmed Verity best met these three criteria," he notes. "It's an original approach to imaging; it's beautifully designed; and it represents improved ease of use for both the patient and the HCPs in addition to potentially improved imaging and reduced cost."
Marketed as the world's first mobile extremity scanner intended for pre- and postoperative imaging, the Planmed Verity employs cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) technology to provide high-resolution, low-dose 3-D orthopedic imaging of extremities. "It offers better resolution, enhanced adaptability, and lower dose than full-body CTs," states Tapio Laukkanen, industrial and UI design manager at Planmed. "Unlike any other 3-D imaging device, the Planmed Verity allows weight-bearing imaging of the knee and ankle."
In addition to focusing on the incorporation of innovative functionality and clinically relevant features, Planmed placed a great deal of emphasis on optimizing the user experience. To do so, the company collaborated closely with orthopedists and radiologists to determine a design that promoted efficiency and best supported the medical professionals' workflow. It further validated its research and design choices by testing the units in real, university hospital environments prior to commercialization, according to Laukkanen.
And while clinicians were certainly front of mind during the design process, patient experience was paramount. "Precise and relaxed patient positioning is the key to successful imaging," Laukkanen says. "One of the key design drivers was to create a unit that would truly adapt to the patient." This concept of adapting the scanner to the patient was executed through the use of anatomy-specific imaging programs, an easily accessible design, and adjustable, motorized positioning trays to maximize patient comfort during imaging. The scanner also features a compact, open design intended to prevent or allay claustrophobia.
"This is a product that checks the two most important boxes for outstanding design, which is aesthetic innovation as well as functional innovation," comments Stuart Karten, MDEA juror and principal at Karten Design. "Its bold form and color draw you in, and when you learn about how flexible the system is and its ability to capture all usage scenarios, you realize why it is truly the best in show."