Vscan Access

GE Healthcare (Primary Care Ultrasound)

Vscan Access™ is an innovative ultrasound device designed to help healthcare workers assess pregnancy risks early and expand quality care to mothers who need it most. With Vscan Access™, midwives, paramedics, clinical officers and general practitioners can estimate gestational age and delivery date to help better plan and manage deliveries. They can conduct examinations that may result in early detection of potentially lifethreatening pregnancy complications, and guide critical decisions over the course of antenatal visits. The device wirelessly transfers data to patients, referral facilities or remote experts, ensuring accuracy and efficiency.

The brainchild of GE Healthcare, the creation of Vscan Access™ involved GE Healthcare’s internal experts in design and engineering. Singapore-based creative design agency Chemistry was appointed by GE Healthcare to help with end-user research and to plan and facilitate creative workshops with multidisciplinary stakeholders. Through rigorous testing with midwives and general practitioners, Chemistry went on to deliver the complete design of the digital touchscreen user-interface.

The depth of the initial field research and the rounds of testing helped the team refine the user experience to a level that made it naturally intuitive to the user. Aspects around consistency of icons, colour and placement of functions on the screen mean that a midwife could use the product almost immediately. The power of the touchscreen was leveraged to present contextually relevant information, thus helping to implicitly guide them through the steps they need to take. Elements that are not relevant are hidden away, reducing on-screen clutter to deliver an approachable and user-friendly experience.



GE Healthcare provides transformative medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world. By working on things that matter by bringing great people and technologies together to take on challenges, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients. As one of the oldest centres of excellence at GE Healthcare, the GE Healthcare Global Design Group has touched hundreds of GE Healthcare products and achievements. Chemistry is a Singapore based creative agency founded in 2000. Today, it focuses on using Experience Design as a strategic tool to help companies foster a more creative culture and deliver human-centred solutions to its customers. Over the years, Chemistry has worked across diverse industry sectors to help organisations such as Singapore Tourism Board, GE Healthcare and Dell Technologies bring breakthrough ideas to market.


Ultrasound Engineering team (Bangalore, India)
GE Healthcare (Primary Care Ultrasound)
Product Management team (Singapore)

GE Healthcare (Global Design Group)
Bangalore India Studio
Shanghai, China Studio
Chemistry Form Pte Ltd (Singapore)
Icarus Design (Bangalore, India)

‘‘The commitment from the client to pursue a human-centred design process combined with a strong working relationship is at the heart of delivering a breakthrough solution like Vscan Access.’’

Insights from the Recipient

Are there any facts and figures about the product that you'd like to share with the public?

GE Healthcare: Since its launch, more than 1,000 units of Vscan Access™ have been purchased by different Ministries of Health across Southeast Asia and Africa to strengthen primary healthcare systems and infant health. Its design and interface are so simple and user-friendly that primary healthcare professionals have increased confidence and are sharing their experiences across their community through social media.

What challenges did you encounter during the design process? If so, were these challenges unique to the Singaporean context? How did you resolve them?

Chemistry: This product is primarily focused on providing healthcare access to low-resource, developing countries. However, the breakthroughs and learnings that come through a process like this will have a ripple effect back to our home turf. Healthcare is a global challenge, and the need for well-designed patient and caregiver-centric solutions couldn't be more critical as population grow, not only in numbers, but also in age.

From a technical point of view, there were many challenges in making this ground-breaking device easy to use, compact, durable and affordable. In addition, huge effort went into deeply understand the end-users, in this case, doctors and even midwives in rural settings, to develop a design that worked for them, and in their own environment. The user interface and product design had to go through many rounds of ideation and development. Many initial ideas were thrown out and the teams would go back to the drawing board to rethink, refine and retest until we got things right.

How should design improve lives?

Chemistry: Applied as a strategic tool that engages multi-disciplinary teams, design can be employed to solve complex problems that challenge us on a global scale. Through the components of qualitative and empathic design research, concept generation and iterative prototyping and testing, solutions can e found to fundamentally address persistent and urgent issues we face, whether at home or at work.

How might the community or end-user be co-opted into the design process?

Chemistry: Everyone can be creative, but design is ultimately a skill. Designers receive specialised training when they take on a career in the craft of design, whether it is interior, architecture, product, graphics or user-interface. It is important to make this distinction to better understand where the community or end-user plays a role in the design process and when it is the job of the designer to apply their skills and expertise to creating something new.

The best moments to engage with the end-user in the creative process is at the beginning, to deeply understand their needs and walk in their shoes. It is also critical to continuously test ideas with them once the product has been developed by the designer. It is a process of going back and forth between designing and testing, crafting and refining ideas, until the designs really work.

What existing design do you think has a positive impact on society?

Chemistry: The internet has to be one of the most transformative ideas in human history. The most powerful designs act as platforms for the end-user to build on and shape them in their own way. The way the internet is used today probably far exceeds wheat its original designers envisioned.

Not only has this unleashed tremendous creativity that can be found in all of us, but it has also helped shrink our plant. Nothing can be more powerful than having a better understanding of our fellow human beings, whether next door or on the other side of the globe.

As a subset to that, mobile technology in all forms has also allowed us to take this power of connectivity and access to information and ideas out on the rod. we are physical beings, and more than ever before, we are on the move on a global scale. This is what has made our smartphones so pervasive in an extremely short period of time. Solutions like these, that answer to deep and fundamental human needs, are the ones that make the most powerful impact on society.


Jury Citation

Every day, approximately 800 women around the world die from pregnancy-related causes that may have been prevented by early detection. Armed with this statistic and the fact that ultrasound devices play a crucial role in informing clinical decisions and pregnancy management, the team from GE Healthcare and Chemistry set out to redesign the standard ultrasound scanner from the ground up.

The Vscan Access scanner is portable, durable and robust enough to withstand use in Third World conditions. It boasts a simple and intuitive interface that makes it easy to learn and quick to use. With its apps and clinical utilities, it also provides an effective transfer of data and management of patient information to a nearby hospital, allowing for an additional level of expert advice and treatment instructions if required. The result is a system that is accessible, affordable, scalable and highly appropriate in the low resource setting for which it was designed.

This project is a masterclass in human centred research, user interface design, and system integration. It brings critical healthcare to those who need it most. It is, above all else, a timely example of how a thoughtful and empathetic professional design can humanise a highly technical product and process.


Nominator Citation


Maternal and new-born health remain two of our most pressing priorities. Despite medical advances, many countries still need significant investment and cross-sector collaboration to help reduce pregnancy-related mortality. The World Health Organisation estimates that 70 percent of medical equipment coming from the most developed nations do not work in developing world facilities. GE Healthcare’s latest innovation is an ultrasound device that is designed to help primary health workers assess pregnancy risks early, and to help expand the reach of quality care to mothers who need it most. GE sought to rethink ultrasounds from the ground-up. A global team of engineers, designers and health experts, guided by a human-centric design process, worked over three years to develop Vscan Access. Chemistry, a Singapore-based creative design agency, was appointed by GE to carry out end-user research, run creative workshops with multi-disciplinary stakeholders, and develop and test prototype design solutions. Chemistry went on to develop the detailed design of the entire digital user interface. The work focused on putting a medical-grade device into the hands of primary healthcare workers who may not possess the experience and confidence to use such a product. It was therefore important to bring simplicity and ease of use into the user’s interaction with the on-screen digital interface. The result is a world-class product solution that is simple, durable, innovative and affordable. It significantly improves pregnancy management in developing countries.