ECMO -Last Chance Treatment in the Event of Respiratory Failure

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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, is out of body oxygenation through an artificial lung in the event of severe respiratory failure where conventional care is not enough. Today the treatment is complex, overwhelming and difficult for staff to manage. Due to recent success in this form of treatment, the usage of ECMO has been increasing steadily. It is for this reason that the treatment must to be simplified, better structured, and fit into its proper context to become more accessible to a larger scope of patients and hospitals. Applying a user centered design approach and ethnographic research, the ICU environment was studied in two hospitals in Sweden to gather information about ECMO. Interviews were held with doctors, nurses and perfusionists (responsible of the ECMO machine).

Inspiration and Method

The creative work consisted of brainstorms with designers, clinical experts, and engineers. Sketches were made and mock-ups were built, with guidance and oversight from clinical experts to create three different concept directions. Of these three, one direction was selected to refine and finalize due to its compactness, flexibility and its ease of integration.


The final concept is called Adoxy (add + Oxygen) and creates one compact ECMO system that reduces cables and hides connections for a easier usage and a cleaner appearance in a complex and often chaotic environment. The oxygenator’s (disposable part) selected placement is more manageable and hidden for safety and intuitive usability.

The final product comes with two separate carts, a ward cart, for use internally in the hospital, and a transportation cart, for use outside the hospital. The ward cart allows for a safer internal transportation by connecting the EMCO to the patient bed, while the transportation cart is lower in profile for vehicular transportation.

Features added for oxygen priming are designed for complete integration to be used when needed, but otherwise hidden. There is also a bigger screen on the ECMO for visibility but it is also connected to a general monitor that will display alarms when they occur. This feature offers the nurses the ability to easily prioritize work from a distance.