Despite working with some of the most cutting-edge technology, radiologists often get shortchanged in one specific area: reading room design.
That’s not to say most reading rooms don’t have powerful technology themselves. However, the workstations being used don’t always offer a unified workflow, forcing radiologists to rely on multihead display setups or move between workstations, depending on what type of study is being viewed. In addition, proper ergonomic design can be lacking, denting a radiologist’s productivity while literally being a pain in the neck.
Fortunately, those looking to improve their reading environment don’t need to start a major construction project. Instead, the latest diagnostic display from healthcare visualization company Barco can address a number of needs with a single solution.
The display is called Coronis Uniti, and it is Barco’s answer to the challenge of growing imaging volumes and ergonomic stress. “We are doing anything we can to help radiologists with the ergonomic environment during their reading day,” Lynda Domogalla, vice president of product marketing for Barco’s Healthcare division, told Health Imaging. “The reality is in most of their environments, they are given a room that was sort of an afterthought and thrown in there with a lot of nice equipment but not in the optimum environment.”
United in comfort
One example of how Uniti improves the reading environment is that it condenses workflow into a single display that is designed for both digital mammography and color PACS imaging. This unique ability to represent calibrated color and grayscales can increase efficiency by eliminating the need to move between displays or between multiple workstations.
Barco optimized the performance of Uniti to match the normal human field of vision. Perception of color and shape is limited to approximately 30 degrees in each direction, but a typical multihead workstation encompasses a viewing area that is much wider in order to present all of the necessary images. Uniti’s bezel-free, 33-inch screen, however, brings the maximum amount of information front and center.
Reducing the number of screens a radiologist views does more than streamline workflow; it’s healthier for the viewer as well. A survey of members from the Society of Breast Imaging conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine and published online in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found more than 60 percent of respondents said they had a repetitive strain injury. A majority said they spent eight hours per day at a workstation, but other than possibly having an adjustable chair, few were taking advantage of the most ergonomic equipment available.
One feature of optimal reading rooms that radiologists might not have is proper ambient lighting. As Eliot Siegel, MD, of the University of Maryland, advises each year at the RSNA annual meeting during his popular lectures on ergonomics, ambient light in a reading room should closely match the brightness of a workstation. Individual workstation lighting controls are recommended, and Uniti solves this problem by including a SoftGlow ambient light built into the display.
The display itself is optimized with DuraLight Brilliance for brightness, with a luminance of greater than 2100 cd/m². Uniti also includes the I-Luminate and SpotView technologies, which allows the user to boost brightness and focus light on particular abnormalities in an image. The display is so bright that it can be used as a virtual lightbox (and it even comes with a clip to let users hang old films for comparison with on-screen digital studies). Barco’s Optical Glass also reduces glare and eye strain.
“Because it’s so bright, it allows radiologists to read in a brighter room, which is healthier and more pleasant for them,” said Domogalla. “A lot of reading rooms are just dark caves right now.”
Quality is king
While ergonomics is clearly important, radiologists’ primary concern is image quality. A recent survey from healthcare research agency The MarkeTech Group, which interviewed more than 200 radiologists from Europe and North America, found that 91 percent felt image quality was the most important display aspect that impacted reader performance.
That’s why, in addition to building a 12MP color screen with the highest resolution on the market today, Barco included a number of features designed to optimize the quality of images displayed on Uniti. One of the highlights is the new SteadyColor calibration technology, which allows Uniti to adjust color driving levels in real time—an important feature given that subtle difference in color can provide critical clinical information.
“Today, people read images on color displays, and yet in fact when they do a calibration, they are calibrating still to the DICOM grayscale standard display function,” said Domogalla. “What happens then is you find that colors are not perceptually linear—they’re not smooth when you look at a ramp of the colors.”
Other Uniti features include RapidFrame technology to improve focus on moving images, and in a nod to the fact that many will use the display for breast imaging, Uniti has the ability to display in blue base as well as clear base.
With clearance from the FDA, Uniti is available for purchase and will be on display at the RSNA annual meeting in Chicago. There, attendees will be able to test the display themselves to see how it can transform their reading room.
“This can change the reading experience and the reading room itself,” said Domogalla.