Oncospace: Bringing Simplicity to Complex Radiation Treatment Planning

A Johns Hopkins start-up leverages the TIC to improve usability of its complex radiation delivery planning technology.

A laptop showcasing the web interface design

Oncospace is a Johns Hopkins-based, data-driven radiation oncology software start-up that builds radiation treatment planning tools based on artificial intelligence and clinical experience.

Radiation oncology treatment planning — or deciding the precise dose and angles for radiation delivery to targeted areas (while avoiding others) —
is detailed and complex. The Oncospace team produced an auto-planning software application that mirrored the complexity of the process and quickly realized they needed to streamline and simplify the tool for every day clinical use.

Oncospace reached out to the Johns Hopkins Technology Innovation Center design team to unclutter the interface, standardize the look and feel, and better visualize the auto-planning workflow for radiation oncologists.

“With Johns Hopkins we get the additional bang for your buck that you are familiar with dealing with medical devices and medical software,” said David Murray, Chief Technology Officer for Oncospace.

The TIC’s design team dove into understanding the nuances of radiation oncology planning and the existing application. Designers then looked at other commercial products specializing in review of complex information about individuals to create plans. The redesign approach they landed on was inspired by Turbo Tax’s stepwise process.

The outcome: an interface that clearly showed the auto-planning steps as a Wizard, with simplified language, that produced clearer and cleaner outcomes for review.

“I’ve worked for companies before that have had really smart people, but they didn’t have a usable interface,” said Peter Hoban, VP of Product Strategy for Oncospace. “That seems to be the difference between success and failure.”

Oncospace achieved additional success after implementing the new auto-planning workflow designs in their application. The start-up completed a clinical evaluation of the project with radiation oncologists reviewing 45 auto plans. Clinicians agreed that the auto plans delivered by Oncospace were better than their original plans. And they found the interface intuitive and useful.

The Oncospace team is currently seeking FDA approval for their mobile medical application and applying more grant funding. In the future they hope to bring on Johns Hopkins and other collaborators to use the application clinically while expanding its feature set.

Hoban and Murray both said that user experience would be key to their additional pursuits.

“Reviewers were adamant that we make the user interface simple and usable,” said Hoban in referring to additional grant pursuits of Oncospace. “The kind of work that you do is actually quite important for things like grant applications. We made it clear that we had professional help lined up to support.”

Engaging scientists and clinicians in a multidisciplinary community to reimagine healthcare and deliver the promise of medicine.

Engaging scientists and clinicians in a multidisciplinary community to reimagine healthcare and deliver the promise of medicine.