By Laurence Yudkovitch, Product Manager – Synapse VNA, TeraMedica Division of Fujifilm
If you spend any time consuming media these days, you’ve likely seen an ad for Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro. It features not one, not two, but three lenses to create a “pro camera system.” Apple is conveying the impression that this system is designed for professional photographers and gives you (a typical user) the same capabilities to take and edit professional photos and videos with the iPhone 11 Pro. Prior advertising from Apple even suggested you could shoot a feature-length movie on the iPhone. With the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple notes that even some (professional-grade) DSLR cameras “don’t do” the 11 Pro’s Smart HDR algorithms. It’s a bold claim.
At Fujifilm, we know a thing or two about cameras, lenses, and video solutions. Fujifilm developed the world’s first digital camera, the FUJIX DS-1P, back in 1988. Revolutionary for its time, it featured 2 MB of SRAM, enough memory to store 5–10 photographs. Today, our equipment is used by photo and video professionals daily for high-definition TV broadcasting, including sports broadcasting and program production.
As a company that serves both amateurs and professionals, we understand that their needs are different. Most casual camera users have no idea how to adjust the aperture setting, focal length, or white balance on their device, and that’s why Apple’s automatic adjustment and point-and-shoot capabilities appeal to them. It’s easy to use, with virtually no training required. Professional photographers may find the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera system appealing for its simplicity, but they won’t be satisfied with the results relative to what they are capable of doing on their professional units. That’s why they are professionals, or specialists, and require more-sophisticated equipment.
In the enterprise imaging world, I just saw an ad for an enterprise viewer that’s also a PACS workstation. That positioning has been a trend in the industry. From an IT administrator’s perspective, the assumption is that it’s easier, because like the original iPhone, which combined the phone, daily planner, and camera into one, a combined PACS/enterprise viewer means one application for IT to manage and deploy. However, similar to how true professional photographers still use specialized equipment, one should question if this is best solution for clinical users.
PACS systems are designed for specialists. Radiologists spend most of their day in a dark room reading images. Workflow, integrations, performance, and usability are critical to their success and satisfaction. If they can complete a task with one mouse click instead of two, or can save scrolling through menu options by using a hotkey, they are much happier and more productive. And a typical PACS offers dozens of commands and image manipulation options. Two of Jakob Nielson’s well-regarded 10 usability heuristics for user interface design include:
1. Recognition rather than recall
Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another.
2. Flexibility and efficiency of use
Accelerators—unseen by the novice user—may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
This means that a good PACS UI will make all the options visible to the user and offer speed keys for quick access. This works very well for users who live in the PACS all day, need that enhanced functionality, and can remember the hotkeys to access it.
An enterprise viewer is designed for the masses. It should be easy to use and require very little training. It’s also meant to be used in any environment, more often than not an office setting or on a mobile device in a bright and sunny patient room. These users need to see a wide assortment of images but require only a basic toolset for scrolling through images and performing small manipulations and measurements. They may be viewing these images on a portable tablet or phone that doesn’t have a keyboard to activate speed keys. As such, their needs are vastly different from those of a diagnostic PACS user.
The point is, different users need different solutions. And just because radiologists can and will use an enterprise viewer for clinical review, it doesn’t mean it’s the best day-to-day tool for them. Similarly, although any user could learn to use a PACS system with training, a typical PACS has far more features than they eventually need and actually makes it more difficult for an administrator to support all these users and their varied settings. This overhead makes it harder for the average user to use a PACS system and ultimately can make them less efficient, potentially affecting patient care.
What healthcare organizations really need to consider is how to support their specialists with all the diagnostic tools they need, but also support the general clinical user with a smaller default toolset, on a unified back-end architecture. At Fujifilm, we recognize the needs of different users within the healthcare environment, and that’s why we’ve designed separate tools specifically to meet the needs of the radiologist and cardiologist as well as the enterprise user, all on one platform. For enterprise imaging, one size does not fit all.