When I think of x-rays, I’m reminded of Superman with his x-ray vision. X-ray vision was the perfect superpower to see that important hidden element. Radiology and real-life x-rays are equally important in the medical field to help diagnose and show what’s hidden beneath the surface.
Radiology is the science dealing with X-rays and other high-energy radiation. Many different imaging techniques are a part of radiology including x-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and more.
A Rather Short History – 124 Years
The history of radiology started with Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. Wilhelm was able to take the first x-ray, of his wife, and was awarded the 1901 Nobel Prize in physics due to his discovery. He experimented with passing electric currents through a tube and turned his experiment into an X-ray.
The ability to take an x-ray was a huge advancement in the medical community. It allowed for the diagnosis of fractures, broken bones, ailments, and much more. It wasn’t long after Wilhelm’s discovery that x-ray machines were produced and its technology became a commonly used diagnostic procedure throughout the medical community.
Radiology Desk Evolution
The first stage (early 1990s) radiology workstation used for interpreting and reviewing images was one-monitor, one-image per-monitor display.
Imaging desks are now morphing into a user friendly-design with the focus on ergonomics and usability or PACS.
What is PACS?
PACS is an acronym for picture archive and communication system. This is a network of computers and desk configurations used by radiology departments. PACS replaced traditional film with electronically stored and displayed images.
Once implemented, the PACS system changed the radiology and workflow of all those involved.
- Imaging including, X-ray, CT, MRI, etc.
- A secure network for transmitting patient information
- Archives for the storing and retrieving of images and reports
- Workstations for interpreting and reviewing images
Workflow is Important
Radiology workstations have become increasingly popular because they include more tools and run faster. The best fitting workflow is the most important asset to a radiology department.
Larger work volume, fewer available radiologists, and the need for remote and enterprise-wide access is changing the landscape of radiology reading. The ideal radiology workstation should accommodate:
- Simpler workflow, clearer communication, and more intuitive tools
- Accommodate longer work hours for radiologists – need to be ergonomic
One Size Does Not Fit All
The one-size-fits-all approach to radiology workstations no longer suits the radiologist’s needs. When looking for a radiology workstation, comfort, quality, size, functionality, price, and color are factors to consider. Radiologists who use the workstation say comfort is the important factor to consider.
Long hours at a workstation puts radiologists in uncomfortable positions that both increase their risk of injury and makes them less productive. Radiologists routinely spend eight to ten hours a day (or more) reading images.
Multiple radiologists use desks, so they need to be quickly adjustable.
Radiology Station Options
Wall Mount – $
The wall mount is for a limited number of displays and one of the least expensive options to consider. The wall mount can be height adjustable with options such as a keyboard/mouse area, CPU storage, monitor rotation, dual monitor configuration, and extension arms.
- Advantages: easy to install, compact, less costly, adjustable, takes up less space
- Disadvantages: not able to accommodate a large number of monitors, limited storage capacity, limited accessory options
Medical Computer Cart – $
Mobility is the medical computer cart’s main feature. The cart can be small enough to fit in tight space, may include a keyboard tray area, a power strip, a CPU cradle, and monitor mounts
- Advantages: mobile, inexpensive, limited installation, takes up less space
- Disadvantages: not able to accommodate a large number of monitors, not as ergonomic
Fixed Height Desk – $$
A fixed height radiology desk allows you to choose the preferred style table and work surface and allows you to add features or accessories easily. You create your configuration for the ideal reading environment. A fixed height desk is an economical and effective solution for PACS reading rooms.
- Advantages: unlimited accessories can be added, easily create room configurations with less cost than sit-stand workstations, no electricity required
- Disadvantages: not as ergonomic as the height adjustable workstation
Electric Height Adjustable Workstation – $$$ Most Popular
The height adjustable option delivers on the most important reading room feature, which is the comfort of the radiologist.
Changing positions keep radiologists moving, which is more ergonomic. Height adjustable configurations allow quick adjustments between sitting or standing with a simple touch of a button.
When evaluating various sit-stand manufacturers, be sure your desk handles the weight load of many monitors and accessories.
- Increased radiologist comfort, health, and well being
- Greater collaboration
- Fully adjustable accommodating the size of every user
- Can be shared by multiple users
- Can be expensive, longer installation, greater desk lead time
Your Work Surface is Important Too
Work surfaces come in different shapes: bullet, square, rectangle, L, half-moon, diamond, hexagon, and corner. Before selecting your work surface shape, a radiologist or reading room planner should make sure the shape works well in the workspace.
People working at a desk crammed into an ill-suited space may wind up adopting poor positioning to the poorly fitting desk, which leads to aches and pains. Some desk shapes fit well in corners, while others work better in an open area or against a wall.
Another work surface choice to consider is a multi-level or dual surface with a tilt option. Desks with separate front and back surface areas provide optimal body position and comfort. Some radiologists may prefer one-tier as it provides a larger workspace area.
You may also wish to evaluate what your work surface is made when choosing your radiology workstation. You will want to avoid work surface colors that may cause a reflection.
Cable Management is a Problem
Radiology tables typically have many monitors. The problem with many monitors is you also have a cable management nightmare. A box cable management system discreetly secures under your desk and collects your cables and cords in a single, tidy place keeping everything off the floor. After inserting the front shield, your cables are out of sight.
Add-Ons for the Preferred Configuration
Accessories offered to PACS furniture should be considered. Add-ons and customizations improve workflow and work together seamlessly with the workstation itself.
Look for desk configurations that accommodate the addition of the following accessories:
- Monitor mounts for multiple imaging displays
- Cable management
- Height adjustable, programmable
- Multi-level worksurface – dual surfaces
- CPU storage
- USB charging station
Desk Configuration Not Just for Radiology
Many of the ergonomic and desk concepts applied to the radiology work environment can be equally effective in other applications. Height adjustable furniture which accommodates multiple monitors also leads to increased productivity in the following work settings:
- Dispatch or 911
- Call centers
You don’t have to be a superhero to decide which radiology furniture is right for you. Be sure to look into the radiologist needs and involve designers with experience in ergonomics. Choose a manufacturer or rep to help radiologists and administrators assess their needs, create a plan, select the best product suited to their needs, and see it all the way through installation.