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Envisioning the Ideal Radiology Reading Room: Keys to Optimizing Form and Function

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Emphasizing core concepts of sound ergonomics, accessibility, inclusivity, personalization, and convenient storage can help foster reading room environments with minimal distraction and optimal productivity.

As radiologists, feng shui isn't typically our first consideration when we enter the reading room to dictate imaging findings. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that working from home can be as efficient as — and perhaps facilitate enhanced performance compared to — hospital settings.1

Customization and comfort in a personalized environment likely contribute to this boost in productivity. If we apply this approach to the reading room, it could significantly benefit us as radiologists and, consequently, improve outcomes for our patients. We highlight a contemporary redesign of the traditional reading room based on five interdependent domains to optimize radiologist performance and enhance patient satisfaction.

Emphasizing Ergonomics

Designing ergonomic workstations and furniture within the reading room promotes comfort while also reducing the risk of musculoskeletal consequences. Adjustable chairs, desks, and proper keyboard and monitor placement are imperative in improving posture and reducing biophysical strain.

Adjustable furniture. This includes ergonomic chairs and adjustable desks that can accommodate employees of different heights and body types. Adjustable features, such as seat height, backrest angle, and armrest position, allow everyone to find the most comfortable and supportive positions.

Monitor placement. Position computer monitors at eye level to avoid strain on the neck and encourage good posture. Use monitor stands or adjustable monitor arms to achieve the ideal height and distance for each individual radiologist.

Keyboard and mouse. Repetitive mouse movements have been diminished with dictation. However, continued commitment to ergonomic keyboards and mice that support natural hand and wrist positions reduces the risk of overuse injuries.

Envisioning the Ideal Radiology Reading Room: Keys to Optimizing Form and Function

Repetitive mouse movements have been diminished with dictation. However, continued commitment to ergonomic keyboards and mice that support natural hand and wrist positions reduces the risk of overuse injuries. (Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.)

Foot support. Adjustable footrests to ensure proper leg and foot support can help reduce strain on the lower back and enhance overall comfort during prolonged sitting.

Breaks and movement. Incorporation of standing desks or active seating options such as stability balls or kneeling chairs enable a wealth of positional variety and may reduce prolonged sitting.

Periodic ergonomic assessments. Interval and serial ergonomic consultations, where professionals can provide continued evaluation of optimal workplace customization, prevents a stagnant reading room.

Balancing Compartmentalized Collaborative and Individualized Spaces

Designated and compartmentalized areas for inspiration, collaboration and teamwork, and deep work with no distraction, respectively, as outlined by the eudaimonia model, are theorized to optimize human workplace performance.2 The reading room is no exception. This can include meeting rooms, brainstorming zones, or informal gathering spaces where employees can share ideas, collaborate on projects, and engage in creative discussions.

Meeting rooms. Provide dedicated meeting rooms equipped with the necessary technology, such as audiovisual equipment, conference call capabilities, and whiteboards. These rooms function best when designed to accommodate different group sizes and facilitate effective discussions, presentations, and decision-making.

Brainstorming zones. Create designated areas where team members can engage in creative thinking and brainstorming sessions. These spaces should be equipped with whiteboards, flip charts, or collaborative digital tools to encourage idea generation and visual representation.

Informal gathering spaces. Designate informal gathering spaces, such as lounge areas, break rooms, or communal kitchens, where team members can interact in a more relaxed setting. These areas foster spontaneous conversations, social connections, and informal collaboration.

Collaboration technology. Implement collaboration tools and technology that facilitate remote collaboration, virtual meetings, and real-time document sharing. This enables teams to cooperate seamlessly, regardless of their physical location, fostering inclusivity and productivity.

Pertinent Principles in Ensuring Accessibility and Inclusivity

Ensuring that the workspace design considers the needs of all team members, including those with disabilities or specific accessibility requirements, can facilitate a more comfortable working environment. This can involve providing a designated area for personal items, maintaining clear walkways, or accessible restroom facilities.

Private space for personal items. A specified area for individual belongings helps people feel more secure in our private affairs, promoting a sense of assurance in knowing our things our secured.

Clear pathways. Keeping pathways within the office clear and free from obstacles to facilitate easy movement for individuals of all abilities can mitigate frustration. Ensuring organized placement of miscellaneous items, equipment, and cords can help safeguard unobstructed access.

Accessible restrooms. Quick access to restrooms can not only discourage long breaks but is convenient and practical.

Fostering Efficient Storage and Organization

Exercising effective storage solutions and coordination of systems to minimize clutter permits easy access to resources and materials. Creating a well-organized reading room reduces stress, saves time, and augments productivity.

Declutter and prioritize. Designated times or dates for regularly decluttering and triaging essential items is a minimalization practice that can amplify human effectiveness within the space.

Categorize and label. Pigeonholing items and utilizing clear labels facilitates ease of access and retrieval. Quick identification of necessary materials minimizes time wasted searching for resources.

Storage solutions. Investment in efficient storage solutions that enhance available space and promote organization, such as shelving units, cabinets, drawers, bins, or storage carts, promote focus and peace of mind.

Encouraging Workstation Personalization

Empowering radiologists to personalize their workstations to a reasonable extent can foster a sense of ownership and well-being.

Desk decorations and personal items. Customization of desks with photographs, artwork, or small mementos reflects one’s individuality and interests. These personal touches can build connection and camaraderie in the workspace.

Customizable spaces. Each radiologist should have the opportunity to tailor his or her workspace layout within reasonable limits. This can include minor adjustments to the arrangement of furniture, shelves, or storage units to suit individual preferences.

Nameplates or signage. Allow faculty to have personalized nameplates or desk signs to mark their designated workspace. This distinguishing touch fosters a strong sense of belonging.

In Conclusion

Redesigning the reading room with modern workplace principles promises to enhance radiologist performance and patient care. By integrating customization, collaboration, accessibility, ergonomics, efficient organization, and personalization, we can create environments that boost productivity and well-being. Future efforts should focus on longitudinal studies to gauge impact on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. Continuous feedback from radiologists and advancements in medical imaging technology will further refine these spaces to meet evolving needs. Embracing these innovations ensures the reading room remains a dynamic hub for efficient, comfortable, and high-quality health-care delivery.

References

1. Sher AC, Salman R, Seghers VJ, Desai NK, Sammer MBK. Performance of pediatric neuroradiologists working from home during a pandemic at a quaternary pediatric academic hospital. Am J Neuroradiol. 2022;43(3):474-477.

2. Larsen EP, Hailu T, Sheldon L, et al. Optimizing radiology reading room design: the eudaimonia radiology machine. J Am Coll Radiol. 2021;18(1 Pt A):108-120.

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