Increasing survival rates of patients with acute respiratory distress by creating a digital lung “twin”



Using a digital model to make better medical decisions

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a medical emergency that occurs when fluid collects in the lungs and prevents oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. It is one of the most serious potential effects of the Covid-19 virus.

The German start-up Ebenbuild has developed a remarkable software that creates a personalized digital twin of the lung from medical images of ARDS patients. Doctors can run digital simulations to visualize and predict the impact of specific settings for mechanical ventilation of these patients. This helps the medical team choose precise, individualized treatments that can significantly improve the odds of survival and recovery. 

Daylight designed the user experience for this tool. The team observed and interviewed anesthesiologists and ventilation experts and then built a clear, coherent UX design that met the technical specifications. The resulting interactive digital prototype has been instrumental in helping the Ebenbuild team move forward with fundraising and development.

“Radically new technology such as ours is toothless if no one wants to use it and very few can already imagine its possibilities. Daylight has made these possibilities remarkably tangible and has already sparked people’s imagination.”  

Dr. Kei W. Müller
Co-Founder and CEO at Ebenbuild GmbH

Daylight created a custom visual design system specifically for use in a clinical setting that prioritized consistency and clear visual hierarchy.

Iterative research and design for the ICU setting

Daylight needed to design an interface that would be accessible and intuitive for a broad range of healthcare professionals in the intensive care unit (ICU), a place already overflowing with displays, graphs and charts. Processes and workflows in this setting are complex, work is carried out under great time pressure, and mistakes could have severe consequences.

The Daylight team began by conducting in-person observations and interviews in the ICU–joining the ward round, observing ventilator handling and talking to doctors and nurses about their needs and pains regarding ventilation. The team harnessed the insights and early hypotheses coming out of this research to build an initial digital prototype, which the team then used in follow-up remote interviews to get expert feedback on envisioned functionalities, features and design.

Insights drive design

Two of the main insights coming out of the iterative research & prototyping and their implications on the design:

  1. A patient is more than his or her lung

In order to create the best possible treatment, doctors need holistic visibility of a patient's history and health status, not just the lung visualization alone.

"This could be a problem: the software provides the optimal ventilation for the lungs, but if the patient has liver failure, for example, it’s bad.”  – Dr. Thomas K.

In response to this learning Daylight's refined interface included a timeline detailing major events and milestones of prior treatment history, giving doctors immediate access to the most relevant data when needed.

  1. To be used, the new tool needs to simplify existing workflows

Workflows in the ICU are complex. At the same time they must be extremely efficient and effective. Since a large number of devices and instruments are already part of these workflows today, a new software must fit in seamlessly and make things easier and more effective for HCPs.

"We generate several thousands of data points per day. The one thing we don’t need more of is numbers!" – Dr. Tobias B.

Based on this real-world insight gathered by Daylight, Ebenbuild has decided to build the software to be run on existing devices across platforms, allowing for ventilation suggestions and manual simulations to be easily integrated into existing workflows.