An architects eye helps transform your radiology department in push to digital

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Have you ever considered that being an architect is not all that different from being a radiologist? There are similarities, if you think about it. Architects too are inundated with information and work constantly with computers. People in both professions spend their days looking at and considering structures, one interested in bodily structures and the other inanimate structures. There also is another similarity in that both architecture and radiology are decentralized in their operations. Perhaps most interesting of all, many radiologists have at one time wanted to be architects, said Anne Coull, AIA, ACHA, Principal, Anshen+Allen, Architects, who opened her presentation with these parallels at the Architectural Planning special session at annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM, formerly SCAR) last week in Austin, Texas.
   
As the world of radiology has gone digital, Coull said, the “zoning” of radiology departments (or overall structure) has not changed that much. However, because of digital, throughput has risen and thus radiology departments must prepare for more patient traffic. Other changes: there are no dark rooms, archives can be off site, shorter scan times can translate into, again more patients in the space, and there is the potential for less staff, Coull said.
   
Radiologists need to use their innate architectural senses to make adjustments to their departments to accommodate the digital transformation of their workspaces as well. An example: workcores. Do sites need workcores anymore? These are no longer generally needed, and can be shifted to staff support or reading, or other purposes. Or if a department chooses to keep the space, a workcore can be used to shape the floor and movement throughout a department, Coull said.
   
The all-important reading area fluctuates greatly as a department goes from film, to a film/digital hybrid, and all the way digital. A temporary space loss might be seen in hybrid departments as room is taken up by both film and digital workstations, but is regained later once everything is digital, Coull said.
   
Workstations should be sectioned off in ways that both promote privacy and quiet but also allow for collaboration when needed, added Coull.
   
As for lighting, variability and control are important. As for acoustics, sound absorbing materials are important for the ceiling, wall and floor, Coull said. And finally, in a world with so much wiring, furniture systems can be used to control cables and access to computer components in a way that is ergonomic to promote comfort and to avoid injury.