GE Healthcare is well-known for its medical devices, particularly in crises like Covid-19: ventilators, patient monitors, ultrasounds, X-Rays, CTs and MRIs. But today, healthcare is increasingly focused on intelligent software.
The challenge: GE Healthcare's software UIs did not all function the same or represent a unified brand. Doctors and frontline healthcare workers must use outdated,inconsistent software daily- sometimes on decades-old devices. This can impact clinical productivity, accuracy, burnout and patient outcomes.
EdisonDesignSystem.com was launched in 2020 as a platform of validated design, code, and standards for creating consistent, modern, and intuitive healthcare software – providing elegant designs and plug-and play code that can help to save lives.
The system provides GE Healthcare's 50,000 staff and partners one-stop access to a comprehensive library that includes:
· a downloadable style guide and custom Sketch toolkit for designers;
· detailed design specs, redlines and usage guidelines on 100s of items;
· a searchable, scalable icon library, each in 3 sizes;
· code snippets and live code demos on all components;
· developer training with custom-designed courses; and
· showcases of dozens of products using the system.
The system's design direction manifests GE brand guidelines, while the color palette was extended and enhanced for maximum usability and legibility in healthcare's range of room lighting and spaces.
5 things differentiate Edison Design System:
1. Quality Focus: Craftsmanship is a core tenet. Every component has detailed designs, examples, code and redlines that underwent many iterations and stakeholder reviews prior to release. Each item, including each icon, has its own competitive benchmarking, concepting, design iterations, review and refinement process.
2. Healthcare Specific: The system is tailored for medical use with components like patient banner, medical icons, AI image guidelines, and custom colors to support software for MD offices, ICUs, surgery, radiology and more.
3. Magnitude and Complexity: The system features 900+ icons, 400+ code snippets, and 200+ specs designed for apps, wall displays and medical device UIs of all sizes, in both light and dark rooms.
4. Inclusion of Plug + PlayCode: Three code offerings, three themes, and responsive sizing help maximize adoption and efficiency.
5. User and Community Validated: Every aspect is vetted for intuitiveness, usability and accessibility from 100+ user studies and monthly community feedback sessions. The roadmap is published and publicly vetted.
Edison Design System has already had a major impact with rapid, enthusiastic adoption across 70+ products.
o Our 2000+ member global designer and developer community provides detailed input and receives the latest updates every 2 weeks
o Independent research demonstrated optimal usability: products using the System tested significantly better for System Usability Scores
o 2500+ standardized, tested and validated specs, icons, code and guidelines work together as a unified brand experience
o Improved customer experience and efficiency are baked in via standardized components to help users with optimizing workflows while also aiding developer efficiency
Elements Design System ensures consistent, modern and intuitive health software that functions as a holistic suite and helps hundreds of thousands of global healthcare workers help save lives every day.
Colors optimized for healthcareColors optimized for healthcare
Plug & Play Code for all ComponentsPlug & Play Code for all Components
AI Annotations Overlay StylesAI Annotations Overlay Styles
Data Grid Specs for Healthcare Data ManagementData Grid Specs for Healthcare Data Management
THE PROCESS OF CREATING EDISON DESIGN SYSTEM
Creating and launching Edison Design System was a multi-year effort that began with robust research.
· The design team performed a multi-month audit cataloguing 3000 currently used icons; dozens of different software platforms and UI libraries used by hundreds of products; and gathered hundreds of product screenshots, which the team audited and consolidated into themes that were then prioritized by importance and impact.
· User tests and customer feedback about current products preceding the design system were reviewed. Usability, legibility and reduced eyestrain were key areas identified for improvement.
· The team also audited the three prior systems, other GE systems, and other industry systems like Material Design, Carbon and Salesforce.
It became clear that no existing or prior system met all our needs for healthcare-specific software settings, modern code reuse, and improved usability. After three months, the team determined we needed to start from scratch.
COMPETING STAKEHOLDER INTERESTS WITH EDISON DESIGN SYSTEM
In creating Edison Design System, the design team needed to balance seemingly conflicting interests in developer efficiency and scalability; the healthcare business's extremely diverse product and device portfolio of hundreds of varied products in 140 countries and with 50,000 employees; and customers' desire for simplicity, usability and consistency across products. There was also strong internal resistance from failed adoption of prior, more limited systems.
Meanwhile, the healthcare and medical device market has been rapidly evolving. Users expect to have software at work that is as intuitive and elegant as consumer software on their mobile apps. This is even more challenging with medical software.
All of this was addressed by: 1. sourcing robust internal input on all facets of the system in dozens of meetings and forums with designers, product leaders and engineers; 2. Researching and validating design recommendations with sample users and testing for accessibility and legibility; and 3. beta-launching early versions up to a year prior to launch.
STARTING AND SCALING THE SYSTEM
Creating a robust design system is much like building a building. Before you can construct a large structure with bricks, you need to agree on plan of the building and on the type of bricks. Before having bricks, you need the raw materials and the formula to make them.
The foundational items the design team tackled first included: defining and testing the core visual style guide (color, typography and layout); basic user actions (buttons, links), common navigation patterns (masthead, left navigation, tabs and more), and standard form elements like checkboxes and radio buttons. Meanwhile, the developers coded benchmark POCs using a number of languages and frameworks under evaluation and built a CI/CD pipeline for smooth development. This first step took much of a year.
The first beta release expanded the system to include a new icon library, more sophisticated navigational elements like step-by-step wizard, all the healthcare- specific shared components, and much more. A standardized user testing and feedback process was pioneered, codified and optimized for testing, for example, every single icon for legibility at varied distances and sizes as well as for the metaphor or meaning of the image.
With the production release, the system featured sample product showcases showing how to apply the system, a Sketch toolkit, an extensible data grid, and robust design guidelines and patterns for specific types of products like imaging viewers, IT and systems administration tools, BI analytics, AI and more.
THE BUSINESS IMPACT OF EDISON DESIGN SYSTEM
GE manufactures hundreds of devices and software products across many sub-businesses and operates in 140 countries, each with different medical regulations. Historically, these businesses and regions functioned relatively autonomously, with little shared code, designs or standards, or a common design community. This led to inconsistent UIs for our customers and often similar design and code efforts.
To combat this and begin to achieve consensus on a shared design and engineering direction, the Edison Design System team slowly assembled a company-wide design and engineering community of 2000+ members. Every aspect of the system has now been rigorously vetted and repeatedly reviewed. This helped break down organizational silos and ensure maximum adoption. The system has been designed by and for the design participants, based on their priorities and pain points. In turn, the system enables improved efficiency and better outcomes for all designers, helping foster pride, enthusiasm and satisfaction across the organization.
Edison Design System was also designed to improve operational efficiency by saving time, money and reducing duplicative design and coding efforts across products. The shared library of designs, styles, code, and a custom Sketch toolkit support maximum platform scale and interoperability. Through UI code reuse, there is the potential for improved time to market. The code and design specs are crafted to match, which reduces tedious QA and design validation steps. Free designer and developer hands-on training helps advance UI engineering skills while training participants on use of the platform and toolkit. This also ensures improved product quality and total customer experience.
All of these benefits of Edison Design System are being felt across GE Healthcare's 50,000+ organization based on the dedicated efforts ofjust 10 people on one small team.
THE GLOBAL IMPACT OF EDISON DESIGN SYSTEM
GE Healthcare products and devices are used by hundreds of thousands of medical professionals delivering care to millions of patients every day at thousands of global healthcare-delivery sites. Seemingly small changes in software design, when applied across the healthcare portfolio, can have a significant impact on improving clinical care delivery and global health.
The team decided to open the system to the public for more rapid adoption by GE and its partners and with an aim to help define and evolve shared standards for the healthcare industry. Anyone can visit EdisonDesignSystem.com to understand and use the system (subject to the site terms & conditions).
Consistent, modern, and intuitive healthcare software and healthcare UI standards, once widely adopted, would likely mean:
- Improved patient care through the likelihood of reduced errors and less need for customized device/ product training
- Improved access to care globally from reduced cost of software development, enabling more widespread adoption of the latest technologies in developing markets
- Accelerated innovation- open access at EdisonDesignSystem.com means startups, academic research centers and partners can use the system for next-generation innovations
- Improved adaptability and responsiveness for healthcare systems to respond to unforeseen changes in healthcare delivery as was presented by Covid-19, which required rapid reconfiguration of hospitals and staff work reallocations.
Consistent, modern, and intuitive health software also has real benefits for front-line health workers:
- Less stressful and challenging work based on more intuitive, consistent workflows and reduced cognitive load
- Reduced training costs and time spent due to standardized, recognizable patterns
- Potential for reduced user errors and improved patient care through improved usability
- Universal access from responsive design across software, tablets, mobile.
The impact of Edison Design System is already being felt and will continue to grow globally for years to come as ever more healthcare products and services adopt it. This system, which is using design to help save lives, gains ever greater potency and impact from expanded use. Global healthcare delivery can be improved with adoption of the consistent, modern, intuitive and usable Edison Design System.