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The Challenge

Evolve the airway intubation experience by redesigning laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy equipment to be more innovative and intuitive, and ultimately life-saving


The GlideScope Core has proved its value during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its ability to improve intubation procedures that lead to ventilator support, as evidenced by a 5-fold increase in orders.

The Outcome

Featuring a large high-definition monitor and built-in workstation, the GlideScope Core augments physicians’ visibility during medical procedures, improving patient care and outcomes

In the emergency room, an intervention that’s administered too slowly could cost a patient their life. With COVID-19 fueling a surge in acute respiratory conditions, intubation—a procedure that involves inserting a tube through the mouth or nose and into the airway—is more common than ever. For patients struggling to breathe, the tube can be connected to a ventilator that pumps oxygen to the lungs, keeping them alive.

While a laser-focus on the present is critical for successful patient outcomes, hospitals and physicians often don’t have time to look ahead and anticipate the future of the operating room experience. As technology rapidly improves, there is a ripe opportunity and pressing need to evolve medical equipment to be more innovative and intuitive. Verathon Medical, a global medical device manufacturer, is supporting health care providers at the cutting-edge of care.

Verathon approached IDEO to redesign the existing product system for laryngoscopies and bronchoscopies—procedures that examine parts of the throat through intubation. During these examinations, a tube with a camera embedded in the tip is inserted through the patient’s nose or mouth. The doctor can then see inside the throat on a video monitor, and therefore more easily and quickly intubate and perform the exam.

To create a groundbreaking device, the team observed over a dozen laryngoscopies, bronchoscopies, and intubations. They noticed that many anesthesiologists relied on fixed equipment during the procedures. For example, some had grown accustomed to looking over their shoulder—away from the patient—to view the monitor.

During interviews, physicians and residents expressed difficulties with the current technology, sharing that the small screens aren’t conducive to team viewing or student instruction, and they must often use a separate computer to record patient notes. Others reported frustrating workflows, needing to constantly divert their attention and move their hands between the patient, prep tray, monitor, sterile bin, and disposal bin. These inconveniences and inefficiencies are not only cumbersome, but can increase the risk of infection and fatality.

The team relied on these insights to start designing a next-generation product. Through sketching, storyboarding, and building in real-time alongside doctors and clinic staff, designers quickly teased out additional findings and validated concepts.

This work led to the creation of the GlideScope Core: an all-in-one, portable product system that supports both video laryngoscopies and bronchoscopies. The base of the device—a wheeled cart—has built-in storage units for tools and a disposal bin, offering more mobility and accessibility for medical professionals.

Designed around a high-definition, touchscreen monitor and comprehensive workstation, the GlideScope Core delivers elevated visibility and improved workflow.

The product’s tagline, “see more, do more,” points to the improvements made to the video system, including a large 10- or 15-inch high-definition touch screen monitor. Displayed images can be enlarged and rotated 180 degrees for improved visualization, team viewing, resident training, and classroom demonstration. To help doctors keep both the patient and monitor in their line of sight, the detachable screen can be secured to an adjustable arm that can be positioned directly over the patient. Additionally, the monitor’s patient annotation feature gives staff access to more of what they need in one device.

The GlideScope Core’s adjustable arm allows physicians to simultaneously see both the monitor and the patient, rather than having to divert their eyes between the two.

The product has been especially valuable for providers and patients during the coronavirus pandemic, when it’s imperative for doctors to keep their distance from patients’ mouths and noses. The GlideScope Core’s movable, detachable, and large, high-definition monitor makes it easier to take this precaution and intubate more quickly. This usefulness is reflected in the 5-fold increase in cart-based device orders for Verathon. While most providers typically order anywhere from 1 to 20 devices for airway procedures, one hospital system requested 600 GlideScope Core systems to meet current intubation demands.

Through modern technology and a focus on human needs, the GlideScope Core supports improved patient outcomes and creates a more seamless operating experience for medical professionals. The product underlines the key but often overlooked fact that often, in order to ensure the healthcare industry is patient-centered, medical device manufacturers and hospitals must also focus on improving the experience of providers.

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