A concept vision for a future radiotherapy system


Made public - 2023


  • Design insight, strategy and planning
  • Human factors and usability
  • Industrial design
  • Visual brand language
  • Colour, material and finish
  • Interaction design
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Prototyping
Elekta is a world leading innovator of precision radiation therapy solutions, committed to ensuring that every patient has access to the best cancer care possible. This is underlined by their vision of a world where everyone has access to the best cancer care.

As part of new product innovation explorations, Elekta engaged DCA as their partner in creation of a concept vision for a potential future multi energy linac.

DCA’s work initially involved development of a Visual Brand Language (VBL) building on existing design guidelines. This considered Elekta’s corporate brand values and, through a series of workshops, ultimately defined how these could be reflected in the three-dimensional form of future products to achieve a strong and unifying visual impact across product ranges. This foundational work was carried out in conjunction with detailed treatment workflow familiarisation and review, working closely with the Elekta team to understand workflows and analyse them for potential opportunities to reduce inefficiencies and risks, as well as improve both patients’ and therapists’ experience.

The future of gantry based radiotherapy

A significant programme of international ethnographic research and analytical modelling was also undertaken; visiting hospital installations, observing patient treatments and interactions, interviewing patients, therapists, and key opinion leaders about their experiences, the workflow, and general commentary. The outputs combined to provide stimulus and grounding for development of new ideas over legacy systems, as well as provide the basis for theoretical quantification of potential improvements in a future concept vision. Research modelling utilised and combined a large number of tools such as detailed hierarchical task analysis, bowtie error modelling, critical path analysis, manual handling, ergonomic analysis, link analysis, information management review, decision ladders, workload analysis etc.

‘Working with DCA really helped our team to realise the impact that good design and usability could have on the patient and user experience and how this can be quantified. This collaboration equipped us and informed our approach to subsequent developments.’
Kevin Brown MBE, Distinguished Scientist, Elekta

With Elekta’s class leading treatment technology providing the core of the hypothetical future system, workshops were held with the Elekta team to ensure all key areas were considered, such as interaction and control, patient identification, patient positioning, patient support systems, imaging, accommodation of the core linac technology, and the control room etc. This was coupled with discussion on constraints and opportunities in treatment workflow refinement, product format, user experiences, key interfaces, technology forecasting, acceptable levels of user control versus autonomy, and many other factors.

Based on the outputs of the broad research and analysis, coupled with the collaborative team review and feedback, a concept vision for a potential future radiation therapy system was presented as a short animation. This was underpinned with detailed research modelling and real world evidence to support key concept design themes and features.

‘Visually you fall in love with it.’
Elekta core team member

Considering a typical day of 30 treatments, comparison with observed legacy systems suggested that such a concept vision could save ~1.3km of walking, result in ~120 less manual handling operations, and save time in each treatment. The time saved in a day could accommodate an additional 5 treatments (or 22 treatments if each treatment included VMAT); this time could alternatively be used to engage more with each patient. The concept vision also required fewer parallel tasks, reduced reliance on procedures, and improved access to information at the point of need.

Although a theoretical concept vision, the foundational research, analysis, and embodiment have been used to inform and drive new developments and evolutions in systems since, including the award-winning Unity system.

'The patient experience is really improved. I like the user experience, you have really listened to what we have said’
Elekta core team member