Unlocking the Hidden Influence: How Ambient Environment Shapes Radiology Readings

two women in dark office with blue light viewing scans on screens


Good environmental design ensures that reading rooms support the needs of healthcare professionals. Providing a positive ambient work environment ensures radiologists don't have to struggle with the health concerns associated with the job. 


Today, we'll be exploring the importance of ambiance in radiology reading room design and the factors that could impact medical imaging in the future.  


The ambiance itself is a term that refers to the overall atmosphere or mood of a place, often created by a combination of lighting, décor, sound, and other environmental factors. By creating an ideal atmosphere for the demanding radiology sector, radiologists can be given the greatest chance for success by eliminating the common obstacles they face.  


Ergonomic concerns have grown in prevalence over the past ten years as digital imaging technologies continue to innovate and evolve. Radiologists spend most of their working hours reviewing and reporting on thousands upon thousands of patient images and are predominantly sedentary.  


According to research conducted at Cornell University highlighted several health issues such as headache, eye strain, and musculoskeletal issues amongst radiologists, citing that improvement in ergonomic designs in workstations is a solution to these issues.  


Subsequently, more efforts have been made in recent years to create environments that allow radiologists to thrive.  


Optimizing Lighting  

Controlling ambient lighting in reading rooms is essential to ensure radiologists can see scans and notice any potential issues optimally. Eye strain and light-associated issues are common in radiologists and can impair the ability to provide the ideal level of patient care. Not only this, but a systemic review showed that eyestrain can lead to visual fatigue, which impacts a radiologist's perception and overall performance and can hinder their reaction time. Working in the medical field, having a keen eye and being able to react when necessary is vital to improving and even saving lives.  


Medical errors made by health professionals are proven to be the third most common cause of death, a rate of up to 9.5% annually in the United States, according to CNBC. According to the same reviews, the rate of radiologists' errors (including false positives and negatives) has been estimated to be as high as 30%.   


The responsibility of radiologists is to read and analyze images as a part of their clinical interpretation. Issues such as prolonged concentration, comprehensive reviews, varied image loads, and demands to read faster, as well as inadequate workspace optimization, are just some of the elements that can lead to errors. 


Optimizing Ergonomics 

Radiologists aren’t going to be able to avoid spending hours upon hours in front of computer screens, and there’s little denying the physical impact that comes with it. Long hours sitting at a computer can result in back, shoulder, and neck pain, including the repetitive use of a mouse or other navigational tools. These result in overuse injuries in the hands, wrists, and arms. Any ambient radiology reading room of the modern era requires proper ergonomics.  


One of the main factors in ensuring a radiology reading room is ergonomically optimal is ensuring all of the furniture is adjustable. Desks need to be convertible to standing or sitting positions, allowing the radiologist to change their stance throughout the shift to avoid discomfort or strain. Monitors also have to be adjustable, along with desk chairs, so both can be positioned into the ideal posture for the radiologist. Each radiologist should also have multiple monitors and the use of a sizable desk to store the necessary equipment and documents.  


Optimizing Noise and Acoustics 

A key to being able to concentrate is working in a quiet place to eliminate distractions. The ideal radiology reading room needs to be soundproofed to avoid unnecessary distractions. At the very least, the materials on the floors and walls should absorb some of the sound to help eliminate distracting noises.  


Simultaneously, it's essential to configure individual workstations to mitigate disruptive noises, such as those generated by the use of voice recognition software commonly utilized by doctors. Implementing partitions designed to dampen sound transmission and integrating sound-masking systems, such as those employing white noise, can further diminish disturbances within the reading room.  


The introduction of white noise not only enhances the precision of voice recognition software but also helps to alleviate the influence of neighboring voices and sounds, thereby optimizing the reading environment. 


Optimizing Your Space 

While it’s true that radiologists spend long hours working at their desks, the job also requires a lot of collaboration. Radiology regularly provides consultation to other medical professionals in the field, and the work environment in the reading room needs to be optimized to allow for several people to view a single screen, both for diagnosis and to share diagnoses.

When it comes down to deciding on room design, there has to be a careful balance between adjustable space for one radiologist while bearing in mind the need for adjustment so other colleagues can collaborate.  


This can include keeping plenty of space between stations to make sure radiologists can adjust lighting and ergonomics.  


Optimizing Cables and Chords 

Naturally, working in a technologically advanced profession comes with a lot of equipment and a lot of wires. Many of these wires, if not properly managed, can pose several hazards. See this article for more on the dangers of mismanaged wires. 


Jumbled wires throughout a radiologist’s reading room can also create an uncomfortable, cluttered atmosphere that can cause dust collection and create an air of disorganization. According to the Havard Business Review, research has shown that the physical spaces and objects within workspaces significantly impact an employee’s performance as well as their overall well-being. As such, practitioners and researchers have focused a lot on improving these environments. 


Additional Comfort Factors 

Just like all people who share an office space, radiologists may have different temperature preferences. Adjustable settings for each workspace can allow users to set the ideal heating or air conditioning for their own needs, as well as increase 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. 


Controlling ambient lighting in reading rooms is vital to ensuring that radiologists can see scans and notice potential problems as optimally as possible. But why is it so important? Read on to learn the major reasons why ambient light is important, and how you can achieve the optimal reading room. 


dark office cubicles with blue light from screens showing patient scans


Building the Optimal Ambiance for Radiology Reading Rooms 

One of the key factors to ensuring radiologists can keep up with the advancements in imaging technology requires the implementation of ergonomics to eliminate repetitive motion injuries and strains. 


Radiologists are at a high risk for neck, back, shoulder, as well as wrist injuries. Over time, these risks can cause serious physical and mental stress, limiting a radiologist's ability to provide the best possible patient care and diagnostic accuracy and manage personal health


Ergonomic devices, from seating surfaces to furniture, are widely available from specialized suppliers, including RedRick Technologies, a leading force in customized workstations for radiologists and health professionals.  


Ensuring ergonomic design permeates the reading environment is crucial to mitigate visual fatigue and auditory distractions. Proper training in utilizing and adjusting ergonomic equipment and features is essential for effectively optimizing the reading environment. Healthcare organizations should engage internal or external experts in ergonomics and physical therapy to facilitate behavioral changes among staff, enabling them to benefit from ergonomic design efforts fully. 


Seating is a pivotal aspect of ergonomic comfort. Recognizing that no single seat suits everyone, it's important to offer various styles of seats, all fully adjustable to accommodate individuals of different heights and body types. While cost shouldn't dictate the choice, testing different seats before procurement is vital. Alternating between sitting and standing positions is recommended to prevent back pain and discomfort associated with prolonged sitting. 


Although ergonomic mice and keyboards are significant, the widespread adoption of voice recognition among radiologists has elevated the speech microphone to the primary input device. Hands-free options, like headsets, should be considered. 


Work surfaces, particularly desktops, should be designed with adequate depth to allow horizontal repositioning of monitors for optimal viewing by multiple users in both sitting and standing positions. Sufficient depth and width are essential to accommodate books and support materials, particularly in academic settings. The space around displays should allow for two or three people to sit comfortably, facilitating image viewing and discussion. 


In Conclusion 

It's important to create a conducive work environment in radiology reading rooms. Prioritizing elements such as lighting, ergonomics, noise control, and comfort, healthcare facilities can enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and overall well-being of radiologists.  


RedRick Technologies offers modern solutions to optimized ergonomic workstations that create the ideal ambient workstation that keeps the radiologist at the top of mind. If you're interested in building an ambient workspace, RedRick Technologies has some of the leading setups on the market that keep healthcare professionals, such as radiologists, in mind. See our product details for more.  



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