Thermographic camera for the paramedics
In collaboration with
Umeå Institute of Design
“The skin has the information and the infrared camera can tell the story of what is happening”
Flir has seen a big potential in the healthcare sector and is intended to expand its product portfolio. The design strategy was to review the healthcare sector and present a possible area of application. The project explores and communicates the complexity of designing a product in today´s design identity, core values, and customer desires.
Thermography is a non-contact and non-invasive user-friendly process to detect invisible inconsistencies under the skin. But it is hardly used in the medical world. The problem is that infrared cameras can only give a pre-diagnosis. Ultrasound images or CT scans deliver a clearer and legally approved diagnosis.
The goal was to review the current limitations and application areas to understand why thermography is not used more often in the healthcare sector. Broad research and interviews with specialists and experts from various medical fields gave clarification. Legal conditions, lack of awareness for this promising technology and availability of adapted products are few reasons to name.
In hospitals or medical practices expensive equipment is already available to detect inconsistencies with a precise diagnosis. But when time is short and large instruments aren´t available the need for a tool to get a quick diagnosis and overview of a patient is priceless. Then thermography can provide a market need for the healthcare sector which will be a good starting point for Flir´s extended product portfolio.
— Project focus
UI & UX
Let me explain you the story
In emergency situations, the job of a paramedic is to get as much information as possible from the patient and treat all life-threatening injuries before reaching the hospital. Therefore, it is important to get an overview of the patient with all injuries. For example, internal bleeding, a stroke diagnosis, localize bone fractures and disturbed blood circulations are serious and the faster they get a better diagnosis the better they can help the patient and the hospital can prepare a surgery room for the specific situation.
So far, they had to depend on the experience of the emergency doctor. But a device with an infrared camera can find the invisible and provide them quickly with a better diagnosis!
Several examinations have shown that this technology is trustable. I questioned myself, why is still nobody using it on the field. Through my research, I figured out that there is no optimal device on the market. The existing ones are produced for another application area and are too big, unhandy and the interface is not adjusted for this use case.
But today’s technology could fit in the size of a smartphone and AI could help to decode the information to make it easier and faster to understand it in extreme situations where time is the most important factor.
Time saves lives
The handy device is easy to carry and can support life-threatening decisions on-site to work time-efficient in extreme situations.
The infrared light can make the invisible visible. Also, the camera and flashlight can be helpful to capture scenarios for the medical documentation afterward.
The AI supports the paramedics to find serious injuries faster by removing unnecessary information and to provide them with a pre-diagnosis.
By allowing to share valuable information from the accident site, the hospital can prepare more accurate treatments before the ambulance arrives.
— Design Details
— Device interface
Short interaction structures
The menu is minimalized to be manageable even in extreme situations when the time is short and the pressure on the paramedics is high. With short interaction structures, the main key functions can be reached within seconds. First, the affected body areas need to be scanned. The body scan can then be visualized in two ways. A real-life image helps to screen specific body areas and to find injuries. The second option is an abstract body visualization of the body scan to summarize all findings for a clear overview. The AI software can also help to calculate the information in seconds to highlight only the problem areas. In addition, the software will provide a list of possible injuries in % of matches.
The technology can support the paramedics to save time and to decide which treatments are necessary on-field and how the hospital can prepare the next steps.
— Hospital interface
Hospital personnel can review the scans in detail
The result can be sent to the hospital for early information exchange. Because every second count they can already prepare the surgery room specialized for the patient’s needs before the ambulance arrives.
The AI software can also break down and visualize the information. It also shows which areas of the patient have to be scanned in the computer tomograph for a more precise diagnosis.
The paramedics are facing another problem to find veins in extreme situations when the time is short, the blood pressure of the patient low and therefore they can’t find any good veins to give injections.
The additional function helps the paramedics after the diagnosis to administer the medication. Infrared light can penetrate the skin up to 1 cm and makes collapsed veins visible. The device can be attached to the strap on the arm and gives the paramedic free hands to act.
Doctors can support from the hospital
Even with the tools in an ambulance today, invisible injuries like internal bleeding, a stroke diagnosis, localize bone fractures and disturbed blood circulations stay undetected. In the hospital they need a computer tomography to detect all this factors. But the time between accident site and hospital is important and decides between alive or dead.
Therefore, thermal heat imaging can be a game-changer to help paramedics on-sites and in the same time share valuable information with the hospital. They can review the scans in detail and plan the next steps in advance. Do we need to prepare a surgery room? Which body areas need to be examined again with an additional CT scan? All these questions can be answered beforehand and can save time and lives.
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