A multi-criteria methodology for evaluating alternative ultrasound devices

Several surveys and clinical studies report high prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among sonographers and sonologists. Better performing ultrasound devices can increase the number and quality of examinations, but also reduce the user comfort and increase the risk of WMSDs. This should lead the choice of the device to buy and use. To support hospitals or diagnostic centres in selecting the best ultrasound device, this study provides a structured methodology based on a multi-criteria approach, the Analytic Hierarchy Process. It has a Goal (to optimise workers’ well-being and satisfy company production objectives) and 45 evaluation elements. It was applied in an Italian hospital comparing 3 alternatives: wireless, portable, and cart-based. The latter proved to be the best in satisfying the Goal, whereas a previous study obtained that the wireless device was preferable considering only the ergonomic point of view. The case study validated the applicability of the methodology.

Practitioner summary: This paper provides the decision-makers of hospitals or diagnostic centres with a multi-criteria methodology to select the best ultrasound device capable of optimising workers’ well-being and satisfying company production objectives. The methodology can also support manufacturers of ultrasound devices in improving their products.

Abbreviations: AHP: analytic hierarchy process; AIUM: American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine; BSI: British Standards Institution; CEN: European Committee for Standardisation; EU-OSHA: EU Agency for Occupational Safety and Health; ISO: International Organisation for Standardisation; MCMD: multiple criteria decision-making; NIOSH: US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; SDMS: society of diagnostic medical sonography; WHO: World Health OrganizationWMSD: work-related musculoskeletal disorder