Category: Uncategorized

17 Sep 2020

Radiologist Burnout

Why Does It Happen and How Can You Prevent It?

Although most physicians choose to become a radiologist because they see it as a meaningful career, burnout in radiology is at an all-time high compared to other medical specialties. In the 2018 Medscape National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, radiology was ranked as the seventh highest specialty for burnout among physicians. This is compared to its 20th highest ranking in 2017. The 2018 report found that 42% of 15,543 physicians surveyed reported burnout, with 45% of these physicians being radiologists.
Radiologist Burnout

What is Radiologist Burnout?

Burnout is characterized by feelings of being emotionally depleted, and a sense that one is accomplishing less and experiencing less satisfaction in one’s role. It is often accompanied by depersonalization where the physician feels disconnected from his or her work and peers, and where patients are no longer treated with empathy as individuals in pain or crisis due to indifference.

Impact of Radiologist Burnout

Burnout in radiology can lead to patient errors and omissions as well as other adverse events. In addition, there is the potential for lost productivity, and therefore lost income, when a physician is not able to function optimally or is absent for physical or mental health reasons. These are high costs to pay for burnout, not to mention the toll it takes on a physician’s mental and physical well-being.

Other results of burnout include:

  • • Physician attrition from the profession
  • • Early retirement resulting in more physician shortages
  • • Increasing health care costs
  • • Increased risk of substance abuse
  • • Increased risk of suicide

 

Early Warning Signs of Radiologist Burnout

Being able to recognize when you or one of your colleagues is beginning to show signs of burnout is important so it can be caught and addressed as soon as possible. Some early warning signs include:

    1. Complete exhaustion

      Exhaustion may be a feeling of emotional, mental, and/or physical fatigue. Signs of exhaustion or fatigue include:

      • • Difficulty waking up or getting out of bed in the morning
      • • Inner resistance to going to work
      • • Feeling of having no energy
      • • Irritability
      • • No desire to socialize after work with friends or family or participate in activities and hobbies
      • • Lack of desire to engage in personal wellness activities such as exercise and cooking at home
    2.  

    3. Emotional detachment

       
      One way of coping with emotional fatigue and burnout is by detaching emotionally from patients. This emotional detachment can look different for different people, but may include cynicism towards patients and a more critical attitude when dealing with colleagues and staff. For others, sarcasm is used to emotionally detach from patients and deal with frustration.

    4. Work is dominating your life

       
      If you feel like your work is taking over your life in an unhealthy way, it probably is. If you find yourself constantly thinking about work even when you are trying to do non-work-related things, this is a warning sign. Because of the exhaustion that accompanies burnout, you may find your personal and social relationships suffering as well. And if you have no desire or ability to do anything but work, this is a sign you are in trouble.

    5. Feel like work is pointless and/or without a purpose

       
       Having bad days and feeling frustrated at times is part of any job. However, if you find yourself questioning why you are doing the work you are doing, or feel what you do is not making a difference, you are likely experiencing burnout from your job.

    6. Mistakes are more frequent

       
       When you are exhausted, frustrated, and emotionally detached from your patients and those you work with, mistakes are more likely to happen. If you find yourself making mistakes more often than usual, or making errors you would not usually make, it may be time to step back and reevaluate what is happening since this can be a sign of burnout.

 

Steps to Address Radiologist Burnout

Healthcare facilities and organizations are able to play an important role in helping reduce burnout and increase radiologist job satisfaction. Some strategies include:

  • • Recruit and assign radiologists to work in areas they prefer, enjoy, and are skilled and certified in.
  • • Avoid assigning work to radiologists who lack the certification or skill to perform the work competently and safely.
  • • Identify ways to reduce time radiologists spend on administrative activities by hiring assistants and considering virtual scribes to perform these activities instead.
  • • Support and encourage strong teams of healthcare professionals that interact regularly to assess workflow efficiency and work-related needs and difficulties of team members.
  • • Learn how to assess and recognize ongoing frustration and impending burnout in healthcare professionals and identify caring ways to offer assistance.

 

How to Avoid Burnout as a Radiologist

Some important steps you can take to avoid burnout in radiology include:

  • • Avoid working in isolation when possible
  • • Work with your peers and staff to create a positive work environment that supports one another
  • • Take frequent breaks from your workstation
  • • Get outside or away from your work area entirely during breaks
  • • Consider setting up an ergonomic sit/stand combination workstation
  • • Identify and engage in regular self-care habits that help you recharge physically, mentally, and emotionally
  • • Schedule days off regularly and take personal or vacation time off work
  • • Revisit regularly why you chose to become a radiologist and all the people you are helping (and have helped) with your expertise

 

References:

https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/view/stop-burnout-radiology-it-starts

https://www.radiologytoday.net/archive/rt0419p24.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530597/

https://www.radiologybusiness.com/topics/leadership/radiologist-burnout-are-we-done-yet

https://www.mededwebs.com/blog/meded-manager/symptoms-of-physician-burnout-know-the-warning-signs

https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/five-signs-physician-burnout

https://www.gehealthcare.com/feature-article/decreasing-radiologist-burnout

17 Aug 2020

Imperfect Images and Discrepancies in Radiology

While the technology in medical imaging is constantly improving, what seems to be constant is the imperfect interpretation of images in radiology. According to a report that was released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1999, it is estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 US citizens lose their lives each year due to preventable diagnostic errors. In a more recent study, these numbers have risen to 251,000 deaths. Furthermore, a third of the deaths stem from medical errors, which are heavily impacted by the diagnostics of practicing radiologists. (Waite, 2017)

Errors in the field of radiology image reading are not new according to the pioneer radiologist Leo Henry Garland (1903–1966). He found that even well skilled radiologists make mistakes in interpreting the images. Followed by other studies since Garland, the aim of the scientific studies has been geared towards understanding the basis of such errors and finding strategies to eliminate them. The categories of errors in radiology have been identified as perceptual and interpretive. That being said, perceptual errors are the most common. (Bruno, 2015)
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Radiology Education

 
Before discussing the reasons for these errors, it is important to consider the preparation for the profession. Educating medical doctors in the field of radiology takes many years. Even then, mistakes are being made, which leads a person to wonder if there is a flaw in the educational system. This is according to Eric Postal, MD, who is the author of the article “Why Don’t Radiology Textbooks Have Imperfect Images?”, which is published on the Diagnostic Imaging website. He found that there may be a disconnect between the radiology textbooks and the actual medical imaging practices and diagnosis.

Eric Postal, MD was a medical student who found that textbooks did not prepare medical students for what to expect when working with real X-Ray images, let alone how to prevent discrepancies in radiology reading. Postal said that it was some time in his radiology residency that he realized something. This was that there were considerable differences between what he saw in textbooks and conferences, and what he saw in cases and reading-rooms.

What he found was that the textbook images were not the same as what a medical professional would see when working in a hospital. He found that the textbook images were perfect for learning purposes, but they did not prepare students for what to expect from real X-Ray images. For instance, “ultrasound pics suffered from shadowing by bowel-gas, or patient inability to position, suspend respiration, etc.,” he noted. What he noticed was that real X-Ray images were heavily distorted for many reasons, such as thorough shadowing by the bowel-gas. Consequently, medical students are bound to go through a period of adjustment when trying to analyze X-Rays they did not get prepared to read in medical school. (Postal, 2019)
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Most Common Reasons for Radiology Imaging Errors

 
Errors are inevitably found in every branch of the scientific field, including radiology. Furthermore, the medical field of radiology is far from being exempt from this nature. Imperfect images that are placed before the practicing radiologists are subject to interpretations, making errors a likely outcome. Sometimes there may not be one clear answer but, instead, possibilities of answers. In such uncertainties, it is quite understandable that numerous amounts of errors do happen.[11]

Complexity of medical diagnosis puts the radiologist in a vulnerable position against making mistakes. It is interesting to note that errors made in clinical diagnosis are positively correlated with the errors made in radiological diagnosis. Thus, it is well worth our time to take a closer look at the errors that could be made and how to prevent these discrepancies in radiology. The following are articulations of how mistakes are easily made within the radiology sector.

  • Unclear images:
    Whether it is due to inadequate, old equipment or patients who fail to position themselves well enough for a clear image, radiologists struggle when reading images that are fuzzy, distorted, and unclear. This mistake alone is not due to the lack of the radiologist’s ability, but a result of the lack in quality of tools and resources. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Complexity of information:
    Images vary tremendously from one piece of equipment to another, especially when one machine is more advanced than the other. Comparing old images received from older equipment with the images received from newer equipment provide numerous challenges in reading and understanding what is going on in an individual’s body. With the advancing technology of imaging, radiologists are faced with learning to interpret new images at a fast pace. Sometimes reading images from newer equipment may take longer due to the lack of training on reading images that are produced from newer equipment. In cases of urgency for medical treatment decisions, late interpretation may impact patients tremendously. (Brady, 2012)

 

  • Fast paced work environment and fatigue:
    Work overload could be a common issue in radiology. When there are many images to interpret and very little time to interpret them, let alone write reports clear enough to present it to other healthcare professionals, it often results in the radiologist feeling great amounts of fatigue. In cases like this, the error margin increases due to lack of focus from the reader. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Distractions and Interruptions:
    Office related distractions and interruptions such as phone calls, e-mails, questions from other office staff, remote teleconferencing with other health specialists, just to name a few, all impact on the error margins negatively. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Satisfaction of the research:
    Detection of a focused abnormality and diagnosing it may cause the radiologist satisfaction of his/her work and terminate the interpretations prematurely. In cases like this, other underlying abnormalities that may or may not be related to the focused research, but they are easily missed and cause for unnecessary errors. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Under-reading:
    Abnormalities may be clear in the images, but the radiologist may overlook and miss seeing the abnormality. Reporting such errors without further detection could cause severe fatalities in patients’ lives. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Negligence:
    Medical professionals are not exempt from making mistakes in their career. However, most of these mistakes are either corrected after later detection or remain relevant to patients’ current state in health. When such mistakes exceed the expected error margin, it is considered negligence and may cause the radiologist to face legal disruptions. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Complacency:
    The images may be clear, and the radiologist may be able to identify the abnormality, but interpreting the image in order to find an underlying cause may not be as easy, which has caused many misdiagnoses. Sometimes this may be due to cognitive error, and the radiologist may interpret the reading differently than the real cause. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Lack of knowledge:
    Not all radiology readers are well prepared for their position, and sometimes they lack the necessary knowledge in order to effectively complete the task at hand. The abnormalities may be identified correctly on the images, but the importance of the diagnostic may be overlooked due to lack of knowledge or experience. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Poor Communication:
    In some cases, the abnormalities could be correctly identified, images clearly interpreted, and diagnosis is accurately made. Yet the written report either does not reflect the accurate information or it is not delivered to the physician of the patient due to poor communication channels between the two offices or (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Other complications:
    Sometimes the abnormalities are not clearly present in the images for the radiologists to identify due to poor examination or poor technique. Sometimes, errors occur due to inaccurately diagnosed medical history of the patient which might lead the radiologist to inaccurate diagnosis. (Bruno, 2015)

 

  • Shortage of staff:
    Shortage of staff could cause the workload for every working individual to be overwhelming. As imaging techniques advance, and the study of images increases, the demand for the radiology staff that can interpret the images also increases.

 

  • Lack of adequate information:
    Lack of adequate information shared with the radiologist could cause errors in the diagnosis. Through these errors, it is proven that the use of teleradiology reporting from remote locations is not beneficial.  The more collaboration between the physician and the radiologist, the better and more accurate treatment decisions are made for the patients.

 

  • Location errors:
    Location errors in images occur when the objective of the photograph is not visible due to its location. Either the intended focus of the image is on the outside of the image or it is taken from an angle at which the abnormality is easily unidentifiable, because of an overlap in the image.

 

  • Lack of technique:
    Lack of radiology-based technique for cases that are not possible for interpretations within the limitations of the facilities.

 

How to Prevent Discrepancies in Radiology

 
Radiology is a field that supports other medical fields for accurate diagnostics. It requires manpower, expertise, and technology working together in harmony to help other medical fields and patients. Overcoming imperfect images in radiology, finding ways to avoid errors in radiology imaging, and learning how to prevent discrepancies in radiology are an everyday battle for those medical professionals as well as for the private sector companies who take these improvements seriously.

Double Black Imaging is one of the largest medical display suppliers in the United States of America. It is committed to providing the best quality product when it comes to medical imaging technology, diagnostic display calibration software, training, QA/QC services for health imaging, and much more.

 

References

Understanding and Confronting Our Mistakes: The Epidemiology of Error in Radiology and Strategies For Error Reduction
Michael Bruno- Berner- Samei- Revesz-Donald JJ-Kim YW- Pinto-Ashman CJ- Krupinski-Castellino RA- Mallett- Wilson- Graber-Rosen MA- Gawande- Leape-Bruno MA- Rubin- Bailey-Stephen Brown-Meir Scheinfeld-Jason Itri-Tarek Hanna-Mari Nummela- Department of Radiology- Siegle RL- Quekel LG- Garland LH- Renfrew DL – https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/full/10.1148/rg.2015150023

Interpretive Error in Radiology
Stephen Waite, Jinel Scott, Brian Gale, Travis Fuchs, Srinivas Kolla, and Deborah Reede
American Journal of Roentgenology 2017 208:4, 739-749
https://www.ajronline.org/doi/10.2214/AJR.16.16963

Why Don’t Radiology Textbooks Have Imperfect Images?
Eric Postal
https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/blog/why-dont-radiology-textbooks-have-imperfect-images

Discrepancy and Error in Radiology: Concepts, Causes and Consequences
Adrian Brady, Risteárd Ó Laoide, Peter McCarthy, Ronan McDermott
Ulster Med J. 2012 Jan; 81(1): 3–9.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3609674/

29 Jul 2020

Tech Tip: How to Clean your Display

Tech Tip from Double Black Imaging:

Cleaning your display is always a good practice, but it’s necessary now more than ever. Your display screen can attract dust, but it can also become a target for unexpected sneezes, food and drink particles, and fingerprints. Over the past few months, our service team has received numerous inquiries on how to best clean our displays without damaging your investment. We’d like to share some tips:

1.      Turn off power to your workstation. Fingerprints, dust, and dirt are more easily seen if the display is turned off and dark. This also helps to reduce risk of damaging the LCD electronics while cleaning.

2.      Use a soft, lint free cloth – a microfiber cloth will work very well.

3.      For removing dirt and dust – a cloth might work just fine without having to use any liquid. Cleaning with a solution of mild soap and water is typically recommended. However, to disinfect we suggest using an alcohol based cleaner with 70% or more Isopropyl Alcohol. Add any liquid used to the cloth – never directly to the screen. *Using any cleaner with Ammonia, Ethyl, or Methyl alcohol is not recommended.

4.      This is also a perfect time to clean the rest of your workspace. Use a can of compressed air to clean out your keyboard, and use disinfecting wipes to sanitize your workspace: wiping down keyboards, mice, speech mics, and desktop surfaces.

Let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to answer for you on displays.  In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!

 

 

30 Jun 2020

Ergonomic Desk Setup

As a radiology or medical professional working from home, you need a comfortable ergonomic desk setup to help prevent repetitive strain injuries and unnecessary fatigue while maximizing your efficiency and productivity. When deciding on your office ergonomics at home, there are specific factors to consider when setting up and evaluating how you will use your home workstation. These include:

  1. Screen position

    Your monitor should be located directly behind your keyboard, and in front of you at approximately an arm’s length away. Adjust the top of the screen so it rests at or just below your eye level. Lower the monitor another 1-2 inches for ease of viewing if you wear bifocals. When reading images, try to reduce light as much as possible and focus on placing monitors on dark surfaces to help keep glare to a minimum.

  1. Chair position

    Be sure to select an office chair that supports your natural spinal curves and that feels comfortable to sit in. Adjust the height of your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor. If the height of your desk requires, use a footrest and place your feet flat on its surface. Adjust the armrests of your chair so you can comfortably rest your arms on the armrests while keeping your arms close to your body and your shoulders relaxed.

  1. Keyboard and mouse placement

    Place your keyboard and mouse on the same surface and make sure they are within easy reach. When using your keyboard or mouse, keep your upper arms close to your body, your hands at elbow height or slightly lower, and your wrists straight. Consider alternating hands to use your mouse or getting an adjustable mouse that responds to light touch for operation. Use keyboard shortcuts when possible to minimize how much you need to use your mouse.

  1. Key object placement

    Keep commonly used desk items within easy reach when you’re sitting. This includes items like pens, stapler, notepad, phone and other office items you use often when seated. If you’re not able to comfortably reach an item, it is better to stand up to retrieve an item rather than reach for it.

  1. Natural posture

    Many people have a tendency to start leaning forward when working from a desk or office chair. You want to ensure you are sitting back completely in the seat of your chair with your back against the back of the chair. This will help maintain the most natural posture for your body and back. For your legs, you want to sit so there is a 90° – 100° angle between your legs and back.

  1. Head and neck position

    The position of your head and neck is just as important as a position of the rest of your body when seated at your workstation. The head can tend to drift downward when working at a computer. This can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. To avoid this, adjust the position of your monitor so your eyes focus on the middle of the screen. Add monitor arms to adjust monitors forward/backward and up/down when sitting or standing at your desk. Using a headset may also help keep the head and neck in a more relaxed and neutral position.

  1. Physical activity

    Having an ergonomic desk setup at home does not negate the need to get up and move—often. Experts recommend getting up from your desk and stretching, moving about your office, or grabbing something to drink every 25 to 28 minutes. If something doesn’t feel right or you feel uncomfortable, consider readjusting and reevaluating your desk setup. We offer free ergonomic consultations for home desks.

  1. Give your eyes a break

    In addition to moving your body, it’s also important to move your eyes off your computer screen approximately every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, looking 20 feet away if possible, to give your eyes a rest (20/20/20 rule). Also, be sure your home office space is dimly lit and that there is no glare or reflection coming off your screen as you work.

Setting up an ergonomic workstation at home can take some time and effort – although the benefits such as fewer injuries, reduced strain, and increased productivity make it worthwhile.

To save radiology and medical professionals time and effort in setting up their own ergonomic home workstations, Double Black Imaging provides a custom workstation design service to meet your work needs at home. Our diagnostic imaging experts can make recommendations and help assemble every piece that’s needed for an ergonomic solution outside of the hospital or medical clinic.

Contact us for more information about our custom workstation design service.

 

References:

https://ehs.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/ergonomics-home-office.pdf
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169
https://doubleblackimaging.com/product/anthro-steves-station/
https://www.ohsrep.org.au/offices_-_computers_and_eyesight

29 Apr 2020

Remote Radiology Monitors and Workstations

In this new COVID-19 era of working from home, attending Zoom meetings, and minimizing contact in the workplace, radiologists are finding themselves in a unique position; they now need to be able to read from almost anywhere.  Tools for at-home reading – including faster internet speeds, secure VPN connections, and Thin Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) clients – have made Teleradiology, or reading from home, commonplace. Flattening the curve and reducing your chances of contracting the virus are excellent reasons to consider adding or upgrading your home reading ergonomic workstation.

Where do we start? Regardless of location, we must seek out equipment that meets imaging requirements of the ACR, FDA, and DICOM standards, and that also significantly reduces strain on your eyes, neck, shoulders, and back. Consider the following as you examine diagnostic LED-backlit monitors, ergonomic configurations, workstations, or other equipment in the home office setting.

Requirements for Radiology Monitors

Radiology professionals risk missing key information, and also risk providing an incorrect diagnosis, if they are evaluating images and scans without the correct DICOM calibrated display. This is something that has been studied in depth for diagnostic imaging within the enterprise, and remains especially important for a remote office location. According to a white paper on Teleradiology published by the American College of Radiology (ACR), radiologists must use one high set of standards “for both Teleradiology providers and on-site radiologists”, as doing anything less could lead to compromised patient care. These standards cover display luminance, pixel pitch, and display size, and also ensure DICOM calibration.

 

Luminance

Luminance is a measure of how much photon, or light energy, reaches the eye, and is measured in candelas per meter squared (cd/m²). A spectrum of precisely calibrated luminance levels including brightest white, lowest black, and all levels in between, ensures subtle abnormalities are visible and discernible. According to ACR standards , the minimum calibrated luminance is 350 cd/m² for radiology modalities including X-Ray, CT, MR, PET, US, and NM, and 420 cd/m² for Mammography and Tomo. In addition to ensuring your remote reading display meets this minimum standard, it is also important to ensure the luminance output is stable over time. Medical displays have built-in backlight stabilization and monitoring. Our eyes don’t notice as a display slowly degrades over time or loses brightness. Backlight stabilization, a specification included in most medical grade displays, ensures the brightness level stays consistent over time, from monitor to monitor, and also controls the temperature at which the display runs.

Pixel pitch and display size

Individual pixels on a display determine the resolution of the monitor, with pixel pitch, or the density of pixels being a primary factor. Measured in millimeters from the center of one pixel to the center of an adjacent pixel, pixel pitch must be substantial in diagnostic monitors to provide the needed level of detail — approximately 200μm for most medical-grade displays.

Another way to think about resolution is to consider the matrix size, or pixels per millimeter of screen space. The recommendation from the ACR for diagnostic reading is 2.5 line pairs/mm minimum, equivalent to a 3 megapixel (3MP) 12.3” diagonal display. For mammography/tomography, 5MP dual-head displays or wide-format 8.8MP or 12MP single displays are the standards that typically carry FDA clearance for breast imaging.

Display size is also important to reduce the need for zooming in and panning out repeatedly. An appropriate diagonal display size is 21” diagonal for 5MP and 30-32” for large-format 8.8MP or 12MP displays.

DICOM calibration

Radiology displays used for at-home diagnostic imaging still need to meet the same standards they would inside Enterprise walls; they must be regularly calibrated to meet DICOM and ACR standards. Without meeting DICOM standards, diagnostic data is easily missed or misinterpreted – gray scaling and shadowing is truly lost.  DICOM calibration ensures the diagnostic data output from the display is perceptually linearized, enabling the human eye to discern all gray levels.  The user can be assured the diagnostic data is consistent on each display and from workstation to workstation throughout the enterprise.

Manual calibration with a handheld photometer and software combination is tedious and time consuming. Medical-grade displays used in the home office should ideally include built-in front sensors for luminance level calibration, rear backlight sensors to maintain stability continually and over time, and automatic calibration software. Calibration software should provide the ability to calibrate during convenient times (such as off-hours), send e-mail alerts for out-of-compliance issues, automatically diagnose and correct non-compliance issues if generate automated reports confirming adherence to the ACR, DICOM 3.14, and state specific requirements. A comprehensive, diagnostic quality hardware and software display combination is an invaluable tool for radiologists to feel confident in providing accurate diagnoses from a home office or remote location.

The DBI calibration software suite pairs your local display with a web based network administration option. Displays can be calibrated remotely and automatically to the DICOM grayscale display function and checked regularly for continued optimum performance.  Automatic e-mail alerting for nonconformance and report generation are also included.

 

Setting Up the Right at Home Radiology Workstation

In addition to ensuring displays meet ACR standards and produce the least amount of eyestrain, a radiologist should make sure his or her remote radiology workstation is set up with proper ergonomics in mind. Repetitive strain injuries are especially common with radiology professionals due to the hours spent in one position while viewing studies.

Countering the stress on the body from sitting in one place, engaging in repetitive motions to work a mouse and keyboard, or viewing monitors at an incorrect angle, is essential. The ergonomic workstation should include options for sitting or standing, the ability to adjust the monitor height or keyboard position, and also allow for multiple display configurations.

Lighting should be carefully considered due to the clear effects on diagnostic image representation. Excess ambient lighting reduces image contrast, creating a “washed out” appearance, thus reducing your ability to discern subtle luminance level differences on even the best monitors. Screen-glare contributes to eye fatigue and strain. Controlling ambient room lighting while adding proper task lighting are key to delivering the highest quality image performance with the most comfortable viewing experience.

Ergonomic Workstation Requirements

 

Confidence and comfort are necessary for Radiologists to successfully read from home. Valuable time adjusting workstations coupled with image quality concerns are counterintuitive to efficiently reading remotely or from home. Double Black Imaging can assist in designing the best home workstation to meet your individual needs. With cutting edge display technology, automated calibration software, and on-call customer service and support, we ensure your home office is quickly up and running.

Have a home workstation and find your workspace is not optimized ergonomically? We are happy to speak with you and create a custom solution that fits your equipment needs, space requirements, and budget.

Double Black Imaging provides ergonomic workstations and peripherals that ensure the right solution for your individual needs. With optimized ergonomics, your productivity will increase while eye strain and fatigue decrease.

Double Black Imaging has developed specially priced workstation bundles to assist radiologists with home office needs during this COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more here!

 

Contact the diagnostic imaging workstation experts today if you have questions about the best remote radiology monitor and workstation setup, including medical-grade displays, CPUs, and ergonomic desks.

13 Apr 2020

Designing Radiology Reading Rooms

The traditional radiology reading room didn’t require much thought. Often they existed in basements or dark corners where professionals could view their films against a collection of light boxes with little concern for the optimal work environment. But with the rise of digital imaging – and the increase in radiologists’ workloads and need for fast, precise results – these reading rooms must meet new requirements.

While radiology has always been a demanding profession, today’s radiologists need workspaces that emphasize productivity and help to optimize workflow. There’s also the comfort factor: Doctors who spend a great deal of their day staring at screens should be comfortable, able to adjust key factors in the room like lighting, sound, and desk adjustability, and be conscious of ergonomics that help to keep their own bodies healthy. Any redesign plans for a medical facility’s reading rooms must incorporate several factors to achieve these goals.
 

The Perfect Radiology Reading Room Design

 
Two considerations exist for creating an effective reading room. The space must accommodate technology, including high-end, medical-grade monitors, as well as hardware that runs state-of-the-art analysis software and PACS. It must also accommodate the physical and visual needs of the radiologist, which in turn promotes enhanced productivity and better diagnostic accuracy.

The perfect radiology reading room design includes several features that can be adjusted as needed for a range of users.
 

Lighting

 
Ambient lighting is key for accurate viewing of images and to minimize eyestrain and visual fatigue. In most situations, both are accomplished when the ambient lighting matches the intensity of the monitor illumination. As different doctors have slightly different preferences, any planning for light sources should include the ability to control both the room and the reading station illumination.

Task lighting should be taken into consideration as well. Though much of a radiologist’s time is spent viewing digital images, he or she must also look at paperwork, consult with colleagues, and spend time communicating via email and phone calls. Appropriate task lighting for these needs can be added at the workstation level, and should also include the ability to make fine adjustments.

Then, too, there are practical considerations for lighting. Overhead lighting can aid in cleaning and repairing computer equipment. Of course, in a room with multiple workstations, there should also be appropriate lighting to guide professionals to those spaces. The latter should not interfere with the ideal ambient lighting that reduces eyestrain and promotes accurate reading of images.
 

Ergonomics

 
Radiologists simply cannot avoid spending hours in front of computer screens, and the time can take its toll on the musculoskeletal system. Long hours seated in front of a computer can lead to back, shoulder, and neck pain, and the repetitive use of a mouse, trackball, or other navigational tool can cause overuse injuries in the hands, wrists, and arms. In fact, as many as 70% of radiologists reported repetitive stress symptoms caused by their time at a desk. Any radiology reading room design today must seek to overcome the challenges of poor ergonomics.

A good start is to ensure that all furniture in the reading room is adjustable. Desks can be converted quickly to accommodate standing or sitting postures, so the individual radiologist can change his or her stance throughout a typical shift. Monitors should be adjustable, as should chairs, so both can be set up to permit ideal posture for different users. The space available for each user should allow for the installation of multiple monitors and the use of desk area to store books and papers.
 

Acoustics

 
Because radiologists need a quiet place to concentrate while working, the ideal radiology reading room is soundproofed. At a minimum, materials on the walls and flooring should dampen outside sounds that can cause distractions.

At the same time, individual workstations should be set up to reduce the sounds created by, for example, use of the voice recognition software that many doctors use today. Partitions can be designed to minimize sound from traveling, and designers may even incorporate sound-masking systems that use white noise to reduce sound from traveling within the reading room. The addition of white noise can be beneficial in increasing the accuracy of VR software and minimizing the impact of voices and sounds from other workstations.
 

Spatial Enclosures

 
While radiologists do spend long hours at their desks, they also must collaborate. Indeed, radiology often requires input from other medical professionals, and the work environment in the reading room must allow for multiple people to view one screen, both to diagnose and to share diagnoses. Room designers must balance the need for a comfortable and adjustable space for a single radiology professional with the reality that workstations will sometimes be shared for short periods.

An ideal configuration might keep plenty of space between stations, which can also help with each user being able to customize lighting and ergonomics.
 

Cable Management

 
One drawback to all the computer and diagnostic equipment: lots of wires. Those wires, if not managed correctly, can create a hazard — both for those navigating the room and for those working at desks. What’s more, jumbled wires throughout a workstation contribute to a cluttered look and also collect dust, which can have a subtle impact on productivity. Conduits mounted to the ceiling can help eliminate wires routed along desks and floors.
 

Additional Comfort Factors

 
Just like all people who share an office space, radiologists may have different preferences for temperature. Adjustable settings for each workspace can allow users to set the ideal heating or air conditioning for their own needs, as well as increasing ventilation if desired. Being able to create a workstation with the perfect temperature and amount of ventilation can increase productivity, especially when many consecutive hours are spent in the same location.

Finishes in the radiology reading room should enhance comfort and reduce glare and reflection. Even wall color can make a difference, as it can absorb or reflect color from screens, and should be a pleasant neutral that doesn’t enhance blue or yellow tones.
 

Setting Up the Perfect Reading Room

 
A single medical facility, or even a larger group of facilities, may benefit from help in setting up a modern radiology reading room that best meets the needs of a wide range of medical professionals.

At Double Black Imaging, we have extensive experience with setting up and calibrating medical-grade monitors for the most accurate results. We also have worked with many radiology professionals to create effective spaces that utilize the latest ergonomic advances for increased comfort and productivity. Our experts have insider-level knowledge of PACS, Mammography/Tomo, clinical, and surgical applications that can be invaluable in redesigning a perfect radiology reading room while incorporating industry best practices.

Double Black Imaging offers on-site surveys to help you choose the best equipment for your needs. We also consult on ergonomic solutions and provide ergonomic furniture that can meet the needs of your entire radiology team. Contact us today to learn more about redesigning the ideal reading room.

12 Mar 2020

When is it Time to Upgrade Legacy Medical Machines?

upgrade legacy machine

The progress of machinery, especially in medical industries but truly all over, has made it amazing how quickly newer, better equipment becomes available. After only a few years, and especially after 10 or 20 years, the average medical imaging machine will start to show signs of having become dated: this doesn’t mean the machine is broken or not functioning as intended. It instead means that it produces files that aren’t compatible with new systems, or that there are fewer and fewer technicians available who service that machine.

This is what we mean when we discuss legacy medical machines; yes, it can feel like getting one’s money’s worth to keep a functional but older legacy machine in the rotation, but there are hidden and not-so-hidden costs of choosing this path.
 

Signs that Your Legacy System Needs Updating or Replacement:

 
While not every system is going to show its age in the same way, there are a few telltale signs that one’s legacy system is in need of replacement or an upgrade.

  • • As you track maintenance and repair costs, the bills are beginning to add up to a substantial percentage of the cost of a replacement machine. This is especially true if your maintenance technician can forecast a need for a major repair in the next year or two.
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  • • Finding replacement parts or compatible software is becoming harder to do and the prices are going up.
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  • • Quality of results generated is going down in relationship to the quality of results from your competitors, especially those who are using newer equipment.
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  • • Security protocols aren’t meeting your standards or the standards for compliance in the industry, resulting in worries about data security or expensive workarounds to add extra layers of security.

 
These may be some of the signs that a major change is needed, but ultimately, the costs-versus-benefits can be a helpful way to structure one’s consideration of whether to upgrade legacy medical machines.
 

Hidden Costs of Outdated Software

 
While the costs of upgrading your medical monitors and systems may seem high at the outset, the costs of outdated software may actually be more extensive. The first and most frustrating concern with legacy systems is that they may work fine until suddenly they do not: in medical care, it is essential to have your system up and running, and a surprise breakdown allows you no time to prepare contingencies. With an update, you get to make the change on your terms, before catastrophic failure occurs.

In addition, other hidden costs can emerge:

  • • New compliance standards may be passed into law during the time since your machinery and software were implemented, causing you to have to make costly changes or deal with a clunky solution rather than a complete upgrade.
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  • • As more and more systems are being integrated so that machinery can communicate between and within systems, older software may limit your ability to fully integrate your medical imaging processes.
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  • • Maintenance for outdated systems tends to get more expensive over time, and companies eventually announce that they will no longer provide support for a given product or software package. At that point, you may have a fully functional system, but you are one error message away from frustrating lost business.
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  • • Most new software gains its reputation for quality because it in some way makes your processes faster or better. Every month and year that you are running updated software, you are making gains in efficiency that benefit your business. Conversely, living without those gains is actually holding your business back from optimal functionality.
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Not Just Surviving But Thriving in the Digital Future

 
When technological advancements were coming every few decades rather than every few months, it made sense to focus on repairing one’s current legacy systems rather than working toward complete updates or replacements. However, an increasingly digital marketplace has resulted in a more competitive market for medical services, and updated systems can offer more than just a solution for past inefficiencies. Consider how updating your legacy machines may put your business at the cutting edge.

  • • If you develop a reputation for error-free work, fast delivery of results, and high-quality imaging, you are increasing competitive advantage. Reputation matters, and having the state-of-the-art systems can go a long way to putting you on top of the medical imaging market.
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  • • When clients are happier with your results, they are more likely to develop loyalty to your company and more likely to return for further business. It costs much more to gain a customer for the first time than it costs to retain a happy customer, so pleasing customers to the point of generating loyalty is a very good investment.
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  • • As Big Data becomes more and more available and able to be incorporated into your business strategy, you need medical systems that can handle and process information and put you ahead. The integration of data allows you to process more quickly and synthesize patterns that could shape the future of your business.
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  • • High-performance machines make a difference in your business and can impact everything from how frustrated your employees become with the systems to the general impression that clients get when they see your set-up. By focusing on staying ahead of the curve, you reap many unacknowledged benefits along the way.

 

Updating Legacy Systems is a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Plan Ahead

 
While you may be convinced that your legacy systems need upgrades, the success of your upgrade really depends on careful planning. To reap the full benefits, you have to factor in the timing, financial costs, and side costs, such as allocation of your employee’s time for training. Make sure you consider:

  • Financial costs: Have you gotten a complete and clear estimate from your vendor? Double Black Imaging provides high-quality medical monitors as well as calibration software which can enhance diagnostic capabilities. We’re an example of a company committed to a clear and comprehensive estimate process.
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  • Organizational costs: Who on your team will need to re-train with the new monitors or other equipment? Remember that one hour of additional training may save hours and hours of frustration in the first few months of using new equipment and software, so this isn’t an area to economize. A well-trained staff helps you reap the benefits of upgrading medical monitors much faster.
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  • Migration and Time costs: How long will it take to physically take one system down and put the new system in place? Is it feasible to run both systems and experience no downtime, or will that create issues of continuity? By knowing the migration time costs, you can estimate the best time to make the change without interrupting high-quality service for your clients.
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  • Ramp-up time costs: There will be a learning curve, even with a great migration and with good training. How will you handle any initial losses of efficiency as you scale up to much better results once the systems are fully operational and integrated into your company’s workflow?

 
Double Black Imaging is committed to your success in upgrading medical monitors. We want you to see the biggest possible gains from your upgrade and be able to confidently use your new system for years to come.
 
References:

https://www.cybernetman.com/blog/when-is-it-time-to-upgrade-industrial-legacy-machines/

https://www.controldesign.com/blogs/heardondiscrete/when-to-upgrade-legacy-machines-and-how-to-make-it-workable/

https://www.altexsoft.com/whitepapers/legacy-system-modernization-how-to-transform-the-enterprise-for-digital-future/

https://www.efficientplantmag.com/2018/09/legacy-equipment-upgrade-or-replace/

 

 

19 Feb 2020

Reducing Repetitive Strain/Stress Injuries in Radiology Suites

A repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a gradual buildup of damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves from repetitive motions. Work-related RSIs are common and may be caused by many different types of activities that are repeated throughout the workday. Radiology suite activities that commonly increase the risks are actions that stress the same muscles repeatedly, lifting heaving objects, maintaining an abnormal posture, and using a computer without implementing proper ergonomics.

Common repetitive strain injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and rotator cuff tendonitis. Although these conditions may be minor and easily treated, some require time off work for physical therapy or even surgery. Another solution, such as prescribed drugs to reduce symptoms, may interfere with a worker’s efficiency and ability to maintain a high standard of performance. Radiology workflows, with their equipment and computer usage plus situations that require heavy lifting, have potential risks for RSIs.

 

Radiology workstations and RSIs

 
A study published by the National Institutes of Health reports that 70 percent of radiologists surveyed reported that they were experiencing repetitive stress symptoms, and 42 percent reported a previous diagnosis of repetitive stress syndrome. Of the radiologists surveyed, 68 percent said they spent more than two hours a day in an awkward posture. Some symptoms were caused by moving and positioning patients and imaging devices. Specifically, the following factors were attributed to their symptoms:

  • • Patient transfers, 33 percent;
  • • Ultrasound probes, 23 percent;
  • • Heavy equipment used for imaging, 20 percent;
  • • Uncomfortable chairs, 19 percent; and
  • • Lead aprons, 10 percent.

 

Most radiology departments are filmless or are moving in that direction. Reviewing and reporting rooms have multiple radiological workstations. The computer use trend is growing so quickly it is difficult to keep up with the considerations one needs to have when planning or remodeling the reporting room.
 

Computer usage and Repetitive Stress Injuries

 

Computer usage also contributes to RSIs. According to Dr. Mansi Saksena, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), “The computer burden on the radiologist today is comparable to or more than that of the average person working on an office desktop.” MGH surveyed its radiology team and found that most radiologists with more than ten years of experience exhibited some RSI symptoms.

Saksena also reported on a test that used special software to compare mouse clicks of radiologists to secretaries working in the same department. During the test week, the average daily number of mouse clicks of radiologists was 826, while daily mouse clicks by secretaries averaged 1150. Radiologists who read and dictated CT exams scored the highest in mouse clicks among the tested physicians. High click count rates are associated with wrist and forearm pain, and 826 is not an insignificant number.

She further notes that computer stations are shared among the technician and physician staff, so these work areas are not designed to meet the needs of individual users. Saksena concluded, “Radiologists may not have a demonstrable injury…But at the end of the workday, [they] may have pain in [the] back, shoulders, neck, and wrists. That can seriously compromise…productivity at work and at home.” The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine has some practical advice on preventing carpal tunnel syndrome at work stations that are not individually designed.
 

The role of ergonomics in radiology departments

 

MJH Life Sciences reported on an interview with several experts in ergonomics. These professionals gave their top tips for ways radiologists can position themselves for long stretches of pain-free computer image reading. Some suggestions require no special equipment, such as proper posture, adequate workspace, and the 20-20-20 eye break. This is simply taking a 20-second eye break every 20 minutes and looking at something at least 20 feet away. Looking into the distance relaxes the eyes and helps the eyes focus on images for long stretches of work.

The report recommends an ergonomic, dynamic-back chair that moves with the user and provides head and neck support. After an ergonomically correct chair is selected, it then must be adjusted to provide the greatest support and comfort. While working, the user must be comfortably seated with his feet resting firmly on the floor. The armrests should be the same height and support the arms at a 90-degree angle. The chair should move with the user.

Computer monitors should be adjustable for height and tilt and swing in different directions so they can be individually adjusted to the user. Mukesh Harisinghani, MD, associate professor of radiology at Harvard University and assistant radiologist with the department of abdominal imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital believes that these monitors are among the biggest ergonomic improvements for radiology workstations to decrease RSIs.

Monitor arms that arch horizontally are used in Wall Street trading rooms and are ideal for reading radiological images. Like OMNIMAX movies, the screen is curved because that’s how our vision works. No matter how ergonomically correct the chair, if the monitor is not adjusted properly, strain and discomfort will ensue. The ideal viewing distance is 18 inches to 2 feet. If the screen resolution is too small at this distance, it is better to enlarge the font than to scoot closer. The radiologist should look straight at the monitor or, even better, down at a 14-degree angle. This positioning puts the least strain on the eyes and body and should result in a higher volume of work and increased accuracy with less effort.

Height adjustable workstations allow for individual configurations that decrease the chance of RSIs. Workstations that allow the user to sit or stand are an increasingly popular option. Lighting is an important component of an efficient radiology reading room. Bright overhead lights make monitors more difficult to see. The workstations should have a floodlight on the wall behind the workstation with a brightness that matches the monitor. Each workstation should include a task light that has a blue light component for reading paper documents. This helps the pupils constrict and makes print easier to read.

Designing or remodeling a radiology suite requires many considerations aside from temporary comfort, aesthetics, and budget. You may want some assistance in choosing the best environment for the specialized work that is performed in the radiology suite.

Contact the diagnostic imaging experts at Double Black Imaging for more information on reducing repetitive stress injuries and enhancing diagnostic capabilities in your workplace. We are eager to help you create the most efficient and comfortable environment for your radiology team.

30 Dec 2019

The Future of Medical Imaging Technology

Radiology professionals today can do more than just look at X-Rays. They have a window into the human body with technologies like magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and computed tomography, among many modalities. The technology that drives accurate and consistent medical imaging has grown and improved steadily, making it easier for radiology professionals to identify the correct diagnoses. Research dollars have been poured into methods for non-invasive, early discovery of a host of diseases, including cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular system conditions like artery blockages.

As a result, the future of medical imaging technology looks bright. Five medical imaging trends are likely to evolve and improve through the 2020s, ensuring that radiologists can continue to make accurate and efficient diagnoses that enable medical care providers and patients to choose the most effective treatment options.

  1. 1. Virtual Reality and 3D Imaging
     
    Virtual reality is useful for more than just video games. In the world of radiology, three-dimensional imaging takes technologies like MRIs and CT scans a step further, permitting doctors to look at a full, realistic view of a body part.
     
    Using the current scans and a process called cinematic rendering, special augmented reality software creates a realistic picture that can be viewed in detail from every angle. The resulting image has texture, which enables radiologists to better examine, for example, tumors or arteries. This opens up additional information that can aid a diagnosis and suggest the best path forward for treatment.
     
    In the future, medical technicians using special imaging eyewear could interact with the 3D scans to gain even more crucial information about an organ, a tumor, or a part of the body. It may be possible to print a copy of the body part using a special 3D printer for even more thorough examination.
     
    Together, virtual reality and 3D imaging give doctors an extremely realistic view of a medical issue. The resulting image requires less guesswork for an accurate diagnosis.

 

  1. 2. Artificial Intelligence
     
    Many companies in the medical realm are looking to artificial intelligence to solve a range of problems and improve patient outcomes, but medical imaging is one area where the technology is already making a difference. Software is used to analyze large amounts of data and create algorithms based on that analysis.
     
    When applied to a new patient’s information, the AI can accurately “predict” issues and indicate what problems may exist, allowing radiologists to focus on specific areas for further human analysis. AI technology can also be used to identify possible issues that are not yet visible to the human eye. This saves time and leads to more accurate diagnoses.
     
    One example: ProFound AI, which uses a specific algorithm in tomosynthesis to detect abnormalities in breast tissue. Their tool reduces radiologists’ reading time by 52.7%, improves cancer detection rates by 8%, and reduces false positives by almost 7%. AI is also being used to segment sections of the heart on MRI and detect problems, as well as to identify abnormalities in the retina of the eye earlier than would be possible with current testing.
     
    The use of AI in current medical imaging technology is so effective that its use and the development of additional tools that will use it to assist radiologists are expected to grow dramatically into the next decade. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the compound annual growth rate of AI-based technology in medical imaging is likely to rise by 36.89% by 2026 — that’s a value of nearly $265 billion.

 

  1. 3. Nuclear Imaging
     
    Medical professionals use nuclear imaging to quickly identify internal problems based on where radioactive materials concentrate in the body. Typically, in tests like positron emission tomography (PET) or single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), the patient ingests a small amount of a radioactive tracer that collects in organs to highlight potential issues.
     
    For example, current nuclear imaging is being used to detect amyloid plaques that collect in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Traditionally, these plaques could only be positively identified during an autopsy, so this technology could now indicate patients at risk of Alzheimer’s before the disease worsens. The ability to detect these plaques early could lead to increased treatment options during the early stages of the disease. Other equipment used with radiotracers can show abnormalities in the thyroid, bladder or heart, among other body parts, and can detect cancer or confirm an existing diagnosis.

 

  1. 4. Intraoperative Imaging
     
    During surgery, doctors can employ imaging technology to guide their work. Intraoperative imaging, or mobile imaging, can help surgeons distinguish between normal and abnormal tissues, such as in tumor removal, or can help them make necessary cuts and dissections during minimally invasive operations. Techniques in intraoperative imaging can also help doctors perform biopsies or carefully control the insertion of catheters.
     
    In the past, real-time imaging couldn’t be easily used in the surgical suite — or had to be severely limited — because the small doses of radiation needed for the scans could impact the health of the attending health care professionals. Today’s portable technology like the mobile computed tomography (CT) scanner delivers better quality without the higher radiation exposure to either the medical team or the patient. The CT scanner can also be used to check the outcome immediately after the surgery is complete and ensure that there is no internal bleeding or other problems. Other modalities are also being modified for real-time use during surgery.

 

  1. 5. Wearable Technology
     
    Extremely portable medical technology can be used to observe or collect data on patients outside of a clinical setting. That means that doctors can better understand how a patient is managing his or her health at home or work and what behaviors or risks could be influencing care. Devices that use mobile imaging, like portable brain scanners for patients with epilepsy, or a glove with MRI technology to assess use of tendons and joints in the hand, are a growing trend in the health care industry. The use of wearable and inexpensive, portable technology can also make it easier for medical professionals to diagnose a problem in any medical setting, including a simple office, and make immediate adjustments to care or medications. Serious issues could be identified more easily, and the patient could be referred for additional care as needed.

 
Medical Imaging Trends and What Comes Next
 
Current medical imaging has come a long way from the days of fuzzy monochrome X-Rays, but should we expect to see continued improvements in the ways we examine and treat patients? As medical imaging trends point to ever improving techniques and tools, it will be easier than ever for radiologists to make the right diagnosis more efficiently.
 
Looking ahead to the future of medical imaging technology can help professionals in the industry understand how they can prepare for these trends to become mainstream. The use of high-resolution, medical-grade displays is key to viewing digital results from multiple types of tests and scans, as well as real-time use in surgery and other patient diagnoses.
 
 

Call to Advance Your Medical Imaging Technology

 
Double Black Imaging is constantly innovating and working to ensure our monitors can take advantage of new technologies while providing the best imaging available in the present. The right high-contrast monitors can help radiologists save time and produce more accurate diagnoses, as well as assist surgeons using displays in the operating room. Our quality, paired with our top-notch customer service and support, makes Double Black Imaging displays the best choice for nearly all medical applications. Learn more about our full product line or contact us today for more information.
 
References
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29 Nov 2019

Consumer Grade vs. Medical Grade Displays

Almost twenty years ago, LCD screens began to replace traditional CRT monitors in diagnostic imaging. Their thinner size, reduced energy requirements, and most importantly, flat panels that improved distortion and increased viewing angle, meant that LCD medical grade displays were quick to be adopted by radiologists.

Manufacturers worked to fix reported problems with LCD monitors, such as flickering due to reduced refresh rate. The resulting medical grade monitors available on the market today offer even greater benefits to radiologists, such as better LED screen lighting that makes viewing images more consistent. While medical grade flat panels have improved, consumer grade displays have improved in ways which appear, on the surface, to narrow the gap between the two types of screens. The 4K Ultra HD displays on the market today are extremely high resolution and can appeal to medical practices looking to save money on their monitor purchases. Are these consumer LCD monitors a viable option in the diagnostic lab?

Consumer Grade Cautions

 
Medical grade computer monitors are still recognized as superior to consumer grade displays for a few key reasons.

  • • Life span. Medical LCD screens, made with higher-quality components, last up to four times longer than a high-resolution consumer monitor.
  • • Consistency. Consumer grade monitors used for a family’s video games or an office worker’s data input don’t require consistent image quality reproduction, but that accuracy is necessary in medical applications.
  • • Understanding of diagnostic requirements. Manufacturers of medical grade displays know that it’s vital for the monitors to show small details clearly, while consumer grade monitors are made to cover a variety of less-detailed uses.
  • • Ability to meet medical standards for soft copy viewing. Digital Communications in Medicine publishes DICOM standards that diagnostic monitors must meet. Medical grade displays meet these requirements, while consumer displays do not.
  • • Warranties. The companies that manufacture medical grade displays provide longer warranties in most cases than a consumer-focused manufacturer will.

 

Call for Superior Medical Monitors!

 
While it may be less expensive to purchase consumer grade displays, the cost savings may evaporate as they will need to be replaced more frequently and may be unused due to their inability to meet the needs of the diagnostic environment.

Physician Confidence

 
Medical LCDs must have the ability to show small details, display a full range of colors, as well as shades of gray, and show a consistently bright image. Consumer grade displays may not be able to meet the exacting needs of radiologists.

Many medical professionals may be uncomfortable using a consumer monitor as they could risk making an incorrect interpretation. Diagnostic accuracy is prized above all else by radiologists, and they may be unwilling to sacrifice the guaranteed performance of medical grade displays. The proven consistent images from a medically certified monitor increase doctors’ confidence in these tools that they use every day.

In addition, radiologists require multimodality flexibility in their displays to manage the wide range of images they must evaluate. A full range of colors is important for viewing PET scans, but grayscale calibration is vital for CR/DR, Mammo/Tomo, CT and MRI images. Medical displays are better able to deliver the performance for several types of images that diagnostic professionals need, especially large-format color displays with 6MP and 8MP resolution.

Medical practices must also weigh the cost savings with consumer monitors against time wasted with longer viewing times and higher false positives. Doctors may take more time to evaluate images on screens with reduced color display and resolution.

Comparing Specifications for Medical Displays Against Consumer Displays

 
Clear differences exist in the image quality presented by medical monitors when compared to consumer grade monitors:

  • • High-end medical grade displays can show up to 1 billion colors. The best consumer monitors display 16 million colors. Most consumer uses don’t require the increased number of colors, but a trained radiologist will be able to see more detail.
  • • Medical displays show a continuous luminance level from a cold start and include tools that automatically calibrate and adjust the monitor. In contrast, consumer displays may vary in luminosity and be unable to perform well immediately when powered up; they need manual calibration regularly for high performance.
  • • At the same time, medical displays are engineered to maintain a uniform dispersion of light output in order to provide consistency across the entire display. Uniformity across the screen as a whole reduces the number of errors which could occur during a study due to an incorrectly “lit” or “dim” portion of the display. Non-medical displays may show a high amount of “light leakage” or inconsistency in light output across the screen as a whole, and appear “splotchy”. A non-medical display with the brightness turned up quite high would also be likely to wash out black and darker gray levels with said light leakage.
  • • Reliability and longevity are much better with a medical grade display. Life spans are typically four times longer in a medical display because of its use of higher-quality components.
  • • Medical displays also have built in backlight stabilization and monitoring. Our eyes don’t notice as a display slowly degrades over time or loses brightness. The brightest a commercial grade display will ever be is right out of the box, and often it doesn’t meet its peak luminance even then. Backlight stabilization built into medical grade displays ensures that the brightness level stays consistent over time and from monitor to monitor.

 
Medical displays also are certified to meet DICOM standards for luminosity and contrast. This means that certified medical grade monitors meet or exceed specifications for providing accurate and detailed images that can be easily read under the varied lighting conditions in a diagnostic setting.

Do Consumer Displays Have a Place in the Diagnostic Lab?

 
While the gap is closing between image quality of medical grade and consumer grade displays, there are still many issues with the use of a monitor that doesn’t meet medical standards in a diagnostic environment.

Physicians and radiologists are likely to find that consumer displays do not deliver the consistency and accuracy required to make complete patient diagnoses. Time is wasted viewing and analyzing less-detailed images, but even more importantly, patients could receive incomplete or inaccurate information about their health.

Buyers for a medical group, charged with saving money whenever possible, may find the lure of less expensive consumer monitors appealing. However, consumer monitors may need to be replaced as many as four times more often than medical grade displays, negating any initial cost savings.

From the perspectives of doctors, radiologists, accountants, and patients, medical grade displays offer higher quality, longer life, and better ease of use that consumer monitors simply can’t beat. Eventually, consumer displays may find a place in the diagnostic lab, but for now, medical displays are still the best option available on the market.

Double Black Imaging makes the most efficient and technologically advanced medical display systems available, ensuring that diagnostic professionals have reliable and long-lasting tools for the work they do every day. For current information about quality medical grade displays, the use of automated calibration tools and other benefits of purchasing monitors from Double Black Imaging, please contact our diagnostic imaging experts. We can answer your questions, offer demos, and show you how our monitors outshine the competition.

 
References
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