Mobile C-arms are portable X-ray imaging systems used within modern hospital operating room environments. They can provide precise and instantaneous feedback directly at the patient bedside, enhancing performance during complex and time-sensitive medical procedures. When the University Health Network decided to purchase new C-arms, Healthcare Human Factors was asked to evaluate the usability, efficiency, and safety of the candidate C-arms.
The team conducted a multi-phase evaluation, including ethnography to understand user needs, heuristic evaluation of the candidate C-arms, and usability testing with end users in a simulated operating room environment. A total of nine end users participated in the evaluation, including medical radiation technologists, surgeons, physicians, and nurses. The participants completed a series of realistic tasks with the C-arms, including transporting and set-up, entering patient information, and taking and saving images. In addition, other data were captured, including rates of successful task completion, subjective responses on ease of use, and user preferences for either C-arm. Through the human factors evaluation, the team discovered a number of usability issues with the C-arms, including issues with safety implications.
Based on the results of the evaluation, Healthcare Human Factors recommended a safe C-arm that best suited user needs. Clinicians, and particularly medical radiation technologists who are heavy users of the device, appreciated being able to contribute to the purchasing decision using a hands-on approach.