December 7, 2006—Yesterday saw the grand opening of the Baltimore Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center’s new radiology reading room. The space was redesigned based on research by Eliot Siegel, MD, Chief of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, VA Maryland Healthcare System, and GE Healthcare, Waukesha, Wis.

The Baltimore VA’s modern reading room now features ergonomic workspaces akin to office cubicles; soft lighting, which has been shown to reduce eyestrain and fatigue, has been added to the workspaces, as has beaming audio, a technology that delivers sound exclusively to a listener and has been shown to increase productivity. The reading room also boasts a meditation and relaxation area for breaks.

In the future, the new room will be used to analyze the impact of sound masking, music, and ambient sounds on stress; blue light and other types of lighting on stress and productivity; ventilation, temperature control, and humidity; and high-resolution, bright color, advanced monitors.

GE’s Tom Reisenberg, Global General Manager of Imaging Solutions, explains that while hospitals and practices across the country are investing a great deal of money in PACS systems, “little investment is made toward the environments where PACS is utilized.” To improve customers’ integration with PACS, GE invested in research on how to maximize productivity via better reading room ergonomics.

—Cat Vasko