Category: Uncategorized

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.


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.


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.


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.

  • • Finding replacement parts or compatible software is becoming harder to do and the prices are going up.

  • • Quality of results generated is going down in relationship to the quality of results from your competitors, especially those who are using newer equipment.

  • • 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.

  • • 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.

  • • 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.

  • • 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.


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.

  • • 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.

  • • 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.

  • • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.



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.

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.


29 Oct 2019

Reduce Fatigue in Radiology

Each year, more than 1,100 new radiologists complete their diagnostic training and take jobs in hospitals, medical clinics, and diagnostic laboratories. These new doctors specializing in radiology understand the demands of their new jobs, but they may not fully understand just how much fatigue plays a factor.

It’s likely that as a radiology resident, these medical professionals learned about working 10- to 12-hour days and how that can cause stress and physical fatigue. In addition to working long hours, causes include the time of day a person works, the time spent on a task, and environmental issues like working in a loud office space.

But constant work reviewing radiology images — day after day, year after year — does more than just make one want to take a nap. There is such a thing as visual fatigue that differs from simply being tired, and it can start to take a toll on radiology professionals anywhere from halfway to two-thirds of the way through their workdays.

Visual fatigue is also more than just eyestrain. It encompasses a lack of focus and a reduction in the doctor’s ability to use visual search patterns that can help with accurate diagnoses. At Emory University in Atlanta, Dr. Elizabeth Krupinski is studying the part that visual fatigue plays in a radiologist’s typical day. Her research team found a statistically significant drop in accuracy of 4 percent when comparing the work of both faculty and residents at the beginning of the day and after 8 hours. That means that fatigue may be contributing to diagnostic errors.

Another study conducted by Dr. Richard Gunderman from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 2016 and published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology connects radiologists and a lack of happiness or satisfaction with their work. Dr. Gunderman points to a lack of control in their environments, a need for increased interpersonal relationships in the workplace, and the need to feel they’re making a difference as factors that cause this unhappiness in radiology professionals. The first issue — a lack of control — comes from long workdays and, quite possibly, from the associated physical and visual fatigue that comes from reviewing images all day.

How Can Radiologists Reduce Fatigue in the Workplace?


It’s clear that professionals need to be empowered to take steps that will reduce fatigue in radiology and, ultimately, increase job satisfaction. Medscape’s 2015 report on physician burnout found that radiologists are most likely of all the medical professions to burn out, and that needs to change in order to improve the lives of current radiologists and attract new professionals to the field. Those who feel burn out are more likely to make mistakes, have less motivation, and become more easily bothered by interactions with patients and colleagues.

Fortunately, there are three main changes to make to reduce fatigue in radiology.

  1. Technology.
    Computer assisted detection, or CAD, as well as high-resolution image analysis tools can help to highlight inconsistencies in radiologic images so doctors can focus quickly on the problem. Better interoperative tools guide better overall patient outcomes, so the benefit isn’t just for radiologists.

    Especially important to reducing visual fatigue in radiology: High-quality, medical-grade monitors. Radiologists literally spend hours each day staring at screens, and these need to be the top of the line, with high contrast, high resolution, and features like glare reduction, filtering of ambient light, and automatic calibration for accuracy.

  1. Ergonomics.
    Ergonomics play a direct role in radiology fatigue, as each workstation must be customized to the individual’s needs based on his or her size and preferences. No longer can one generic workstation be used by whichever radiologist got there first; instead, workstation furniture must be carefully adjusted to the radiologist to prevent ergonomic fatigue from setting in.

    The display must be positioned at the right place in conjunction with the viewer’s eyeline. As well, viewing conditions need to be optimized to reduce problems with glare and ambient light that can’t be eliminated by the choice of a high-end monitor. Chairs must fit the user to avoid neck and back strain and encourage proper posture. Ideally, the ergonomic workstation should be adjustable to reduce radiology fatigue by encouraging natural, healthy movement. The workstation could be converted from sitting to standing every half-hour to hour to prevent the user from getting strains associated from not moving  or from hunching over a keyboard.

  1. Awareness.
    Radiologists should be better taught about the impacts of fatigue. Management and colleagues should work to create a clinic or hospital culture that promotes regular breaks and scheduled viewing times. Especially because regular breaks are shown to improve diagnostic accuracy, it may be helpful to integrate monitoring tools that help to check visual fatigue. Timers can encourage radiologists to reduce their fatigue by following the 20-20-20 rule that every 20 minutes, a computer user should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to reduce visual strain.


Why Does Reducing Fatigue Matter?


Professionals used to working long hours and staring at diagnostic images may not fully understand the need for regular breaks, software tools, and ergonomic chairs to reduce radiology fatigue. But reducing fatigue is more than just giving perks to hard-working doctors. The right medical grade displays can help radiologists work faster with fewer mistakes, and the right ergonomic workstation can prevent muscle strain and discomfort that distracts from full focus.

In addition, radiologists who take more control over their working conditions and their schedules may work longer in the profession with a greater degree of job satisfaction, a factor that can influence the entire culture of a clinic or hospital. Increasing awareness of the importance of the quality and resolution of the tools used, and the need for regular breaks to reduce eye strain, are important to improving the work and accuracy of radiologists — a goal that every medical facility should strive for.

Double Black Imaging provides high-resolution medical grade monitors for use in a variety of diagnostic settings. We also offer a line of ergonomic furniture designed specifically for the needs of radiologists. Our experts can help design and install workstations for radiologists that improve comfort, reduce the impacts of fatigue in radiology, and help radiologists with focus and accuracy.

Contact the medical imaging experts today to learn more about our full line of medical displays and ergonomic workstations.

29 Sep 2019

Improving Ergonomics in the Workplace for Modern Radiology Suites

As a radiologist, you’ve been able to make huge strides in efficiency in the past few years. Filmless digital images that can be viewed anywhere let you work wherever you wish. PACS permits you to send images to referring physicians in seconds. Smart radiology tools can do amazing things automatically, such as identifying subtle changes over time.

What you probably haven’t paid as much attention to: Your reading room design.

While monitors have gotten slimmer, brighter, and higher in resolution, and software has been getting more robust, the radiology community simply hasn’t been focused on improving ergonomics in the workplace. A poorly set-up radiology workstation can have noticeable impacts on your overall health and well-being, as well as your efficiency.

When you say that any old desk, chair, or monitor will do, you’re essentially agreeing to decreased productivity from not being in the ideal position to view images. You’re also putting yourself at risk for repetitive stress injuries, eye strain, neck and shoulder pain, and backache. Here’s how haphazard medical workstation organization could be costing you, and what you can do to improve your ergonomics for safety and functionality:

Ergonomics and Safety

Your Head: Poor Position Can Lead to Eye Strain and Neck Compression

The Problem: You need to look at many different areas, from monitor to keyboard, to reference materials, or to worklist or dictation programs, that are to the side of your primary screen.

The Physical Issue: Straining your neck to properly view all your materials, both on-screen and off, can cause tension in your neck muscles and lead to headaches. Eventually, you could develop compressed neck vertebrae.

The Change: If you’re using a workstation for more than 2 hours, it should be organized so your primary monitor and keyboard are directly in front of you.

The Ideal: Your neck is in a neutral position, and you’re using a document holder positioned right next to your screen so you don’t need to swivel your neck constantly.

Your Hands: Wrong Keyboard Placement Costs You from Elbows to Fingertips

The Problem: Poor positioning of your keyboard results in your shoulders being hunched, your elbows being bent awkwardly, and your wrists at the wrong angle.

The Physical Issue: Your posture can suffer as your shoulders roll forward for long periods of time. The strain on your hands can lead to carpal tunnel problems and issues with tendons and ligaments in your elbows.

The Change: You’ll want to make sure your keyboard is positioned where your arms fall in a position immediately in front of you at a relaxed 90° angle.

The Ideal: You sit relaxed in front of your workstation, with your upper arms relaxed and your elbows comfortably close to your body.

Your Back: Misaligned Chairs Force Your Back into Unnatural Postures

The Problem: Your chair is too high, has too much (or not enough) cushioning, and lacks a suitable backrest for lumbar support.

The Physical Issue: Your slumped shoulders lead your back into incorrect posture and place strain on the muscles of your upper and lower back.

The Change: You should improve your ergonomics by adjusting your workplace chair to fit your body and allowing your feet to rest comfortably on the floor in front of you. You also need to be seated in a chair with moderate cushioning and lumbar support for your lower back.

The Ideal: Your posture is correct, with spine straight and shoulders in place. Your feet don’t strain to reach the floor.

Your Environment: Problematic Airflow, Sound, and Lighting All Reduce Efficiency

Three main problems can crop up in your workstation environment, leading to problems with productivity due to compromised focus.

Temperature and Ventilation. For desk work, you’ll want to be sitting in a room that’s between 68°F and 75°F, with humidity between 40% and 60%. Unfortunately, computer equipment, monitors, and other electronics lead to warmer temps and drier air, so you’ll want to be sure you can adjust as needed. Air conditioning that responds rapidly to changes should be available.

Sound. High levels of unnecessary background noise — even white noise, like that caused by air conditioning systems or computer fans — can decrease your attention span and increase fatigue. In a busy medical office or hospital, you’re probably also listening to paging systems, phone calls, and noise from nearby colleagues. Remove noise equipment from radiology workstations and install acoustic dampening materials such as carpeting and paneling that can reduce outside sounds.

Ambient Lighting. Light boxes and windows can add glare and unwanted light when you’re reviewing images on a high-resolution monitor. Without control over these outside sources of light, viewing the screen can be challenging. Task lighting can give you more control over how much light you use for reading off paper or working on a screen, and dimmer switches should permit exact adjustment of lighting. In fact, ergonomics play a role in eye safety, as lighting has a huge impact on overall eye health.

Why Improving your Ergonomic Desk Setup Really Matters

The bottom line is that the way you position your body makes a big difference in how productive you are. The right radiology workstation that merges ergonomics with safety, and is adjusted specifically to you, can help you reduce fatigue, muscle strain, and the risk of repetitive motion injury.

Contact the experts at Double Black Imaging for more information on improving ergonomics in your workplace!

29 Aug 2019

Do Your Diagnostic LCD Monitors Meet the Guidelines?

As diagnostic medicine moved from film to the computer screen, medical professionals found that reasonable guidelines were needed to control how diagnostic monitors display images. Consistent output ensures that medical professionals around the globe are able to view images and make accurate diagnoses.

To establish consistency for diagnostic LCD monitor requirements, the American College of Radiology developed the ACR Technical Standard for Electronic Practice of Medical Imaging. The standard was first set forth in 1994 and is updated regularly. Today, it is also endorsed by and revised in conjunction with the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM).

This standard covers not only how images are displayed, but how they are captured and stored. Section IV-D of the ACR standard details the minimum display settings for image quality and resolution. Monitor performance characteristics that define image quality include:

  • Luminance:

    the amount of photon energy that reaches the eye. Ranges for the values of the lowest gray value are 1.2 candelas per meter squared (cd/m2) for mammogram interpretation and 1.0 cd/m2 for other diagnostic interpretation. For the highest gray value, some medical-quality monitors can produce as much as 1200 candelas per meter squared (cd/m2), but the minimum for monitors that are used for mammograms is 420 cd/m2, and all other medical monitors at 350 cd/m2.

  • Contrast:

    the ratio of luminance difference between the darkest black and the brightest white that can be viewed on the screen at one time. The higher the contrast ratio, the more shades of gray (on a monochrome monitor) or colors (on a color monitor) can be viewed. It is ideal for all monitors in a medical facility to have similar ratios to ensure correct interpretation between monitors.  However, an excessively large contrast ratio is not recommended as it exceeds what the human eye can process.

  • Ambient light:

    light in the environment that hits the screen, reducing how its luminance is viewed by the observer.  To minimize eye fatigue, the ambient lighting (ambient illuminance) should be set to 25-50 lux.

  • Matrix size:

    how many pixels are in each mm of screen space. ACR recommends at least 2.5 lp/mm, which translates to at least a 3MP Display. For Mammography, FDA Cleared 5MP or 12MP Displays are recommended.

  • Other standards for diagnostic monitor displays establish guidelines for bit depth or the number of bits displayed per pixel; noise or luminance variation; and response time for a pixel to change from white to black and back again. For full standards, see ACR’s practice parameters for mammography and for other diagnostic interpretation.(Pages 10-12)


Evaluating Medical LCD Display Monitors for Adherence to the ACR Standard

Diagnostic monitor guidelines change as new technology becomes available in the marketplace; for example, CRT screens are no longer used in favor of flat-screen LCDs that provide a less distorted image. The ACR updates its guidelines on a regular basis, and medical practitioners must ensure their diagnostic LCD monitors and other displays adhere to the latest requirements.

A qualified medical display provider can help radiology departments keep up with changes and remove outdated equipment. This provider works with an on-site Imaging Informatics Professional or IT staff to meet the need for maintenance and calibration of displays.

Call to Set Up your On-Site Survey!

The ability to ensure that monitors are properly calibrated is especially important for all diagnostic monitors. Displays that incorporate front sensors can automatically calibrate for the DICOM 3.14 radiologic standard. Without front sensors and auto-calibrating software, each display must be manually calibrated. A medical display provider can and should explain the importance of calibration and assist a medical practice with determining the best solution for calibrating to standard on a regular and consistent schedule.

Choosing the Right Display Provider

Any medical display provider you select to provide displays, whether it be one or hundreds, should be up-to-date with current diagnostic monitors and their guidelines and be able to recommend the best solution for monitors that adhere to the standards and fit your environment and budget. Providers can also assess your existing medical-grade displays.

In addition, your provider should be able to provide quality assurance software that proves adherence to the ACR standard. This software must be able to both control performance and identify any issues that may cause a display to fall out of standard. Software should be updated regularly, and new versions or updates should be installed when available.

The right display provider will also support products as needed. This includes training and follow-up to check that monitors and software tools are being correctly utilized. If you are unable to check display performance, your provider should have trained personnel who can assist you with scheduled calibration checks and maintenance.

Double Black Imaging performs these services from setup to configuration to ongoing training and support. Our calibration software and productivity tools are made in the U.S., and we are current on the established standards for conformance and calibration of medical imaging displays. Contact us for more information about medical monitor and calibration training for your staff or ongoing monitoring and maintenance of your medical-grade displays.