Medical-grade computers are amazing tools. With them, providers and healthcare personnel can access data ranging from patients’ EMRs to the latest blood test results. Viewing and accessing this data is accomplished via a medical-grade monitor or display. 

Today’s post covers this critical piece of medical equipment. How is it different from that flatscreen on your desk, for example? Why do these differences exist? We review how medical displays are used in healthcare and built for their specific department or use. 

Finally, we provide a list of questions to ask when purchasing the right medical monitor for your organization.   

What Is a Medical-Grade Monitor?

A medical-grade monitor is a display built from the ground up to handle the rigors of the healthcare industry. Certifications for near-patient safety and use, sealed casing, and department-specific image quality are just a few ways these displays differ from conventional consumer-grade monitors. 

When taken together, they aid healthcare personnel in providing the best possible patient care experience.

Characteristics That Define Medical-Grade Monitors

We have covered the differences between medical-grade monitors and consumer-grade monitors in the past. Some of these features include:

  • Image quality: Medical specialists like radiologists make life-and-death decisions over an X-ray or MRI image. Any image displayed on their monitors must be of exceptional clarity, resolution, quality, color, and contrast. This enables them to spot shadows or other subtle visual signs that might be a malignant tumor. 
  • Regulatory compliance: The medical field is highly regulated. Medical equipment manufacturers ensure their products are tested and certified for patient safety like IEC 60601-1. Consumer– grade monitors lack these required certifications. 
  • Durability and reliability: Medical facilities like hospitals are open 24/7. Electronics must function reliably in such settings, which is something consumer-grade monitors are not built to do. 
  • Hygiene: Hospital staff spend excessive time and effort keeping facilities germ-free. IP65-rated medical-grade computer monitors are sealed to withstand harsh cleaning materials. 
  • Purpose-built: Surgical displays must be clear in the bright lights used in surgeries. In addition, select radiology monitors may need to display up to 65,536 shades of gray for specific exams. All-purpose consumer monitors are too generalized to meet each specialty’s unique requirements. 
  • Cost efficiency: Consumer displays are less costly per unit than medical-grade monitors upfront. That price advantage disappears over time as off-the-shelf models break down and must be repaired or replaced. 

Commercial-grade displays have too many limitations to meet healthcare’s high demands.

Resolution and Image Quality

Resolution is the level of detail contained in an image. This level is measured in pixels (picture elements), the smallest unit that composes a digital image. The more pixels in a given image space, the higher its resolution and greater the image quality.

Medical-grade monitors’ image quality is usually broken down into color accuracy, luminance and brightness, and calibration and consistency. You’ll note many revolve around the standards for diagnostic medical grade displays used by radiology. 

This specialty is well-known for  its use of monitors, which demand consistent images of the highest quality. Medical monitors used for other purposes and departments do not require them to be at such levels.

Color Accuracy: This refers to how well the medical display reproduces the intended colors of an image correctly. Color accuracy includes grayscale, the shades of gray between black and white. This is extremely important in radiology since X-rays are rendered in grayscale. Medical monitors can display billions of colors depending on the model. 

Color space, delta E (dE) level, and color gamut are ways color accuracy is measured for a particular monitor. Many healthcare IT departments simply use resolution, measured in megapixels (MP), for how well the image is displayed.

The American College of Radiology recommends diagnostic monitor resolution to be a minimum of 3MP for X-ray, magnetic resonance, computed tomography, and ultrasound imagery. By law, 5MP is required for mammography images. Medical-grade monitors can be lower (2MP or less) in other specialties. 

Luminance and Brightness:  Luminance is the light that the light source creates. How bright or dim that light looks to the viewer is called its brightness. 

Brightness is measured in candelas per square meter (cd/m2). If it is too low, the viewer may be unable to make out much in the dark areas of an image. 

Luminance and the resulting brightness should be high in diagnostic medical liquid crystal displays (LCD). High maximum luminance, or Lmax, should be at least 250 cd/m2 for ultrasound, fluoroscopy, and nuclear medicine images. This figure jumps to 350 cd/m2 for X-ray, CT, and MRI scans. Images from mammograms should be viewed on monitors with at least 400 cd/m2. 

Medical-grade monitors primarily used for other purposes like patient monitoring do not need to meet these lighting standards.

Calibration and Consistency: Calibration for a medical display ensures its colors are consistent with the RGB (red, green, blue) color model set by DICOM (see below). This is extremely important, as it ensures providers see the same image and detail regardless of whether it is viewed on the hospital medical-grade monitor or office display. 

Calibration is often performed manually by medical personnel like healthcare IT. Some high-end displays come with all software and hardware, like light sensors, required to perform their own calibration. Again, these pricey models are found in radiology departments and are unnecessary for others. 

Regulatory Standards for Medical Displays

As previously discussed, medical-grade monitors are highly regulated compared to consumer displays. Two regulations of note are compliance with DICOM and medical-grade. 

  • DICOM is the acronym for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. It is the international standard for medical images and related information (ISO 12052). For example, a DICOM-compliant monitor will display an accurate reproduction of grayscale images from an MRI (DICOM part 3.14). This is regardless of the monitor’s graphic card or the connected medical-grade computer.
  • Medical grade means the medical display has been built, tested, and certified for near-patient use per IEC 60601 and UL/cUL 60601-1 standards. 

Other standards include HIPAA compliance to protect personal health data and ingress protection (IP65) against dust and water. Both show how medical-grade monitors are built to meet specifications for the healthcare sector. 

Selecting the Right Medical-Grade Monitor

You now have a solid grasp of medical-grade computers. What are the most common factors you should consider when shopping for them for your healthcare group? 

Specific Requirements

Remember each department uses its medical displays differently. Will it be used to review images to aid in patient diagnosis? Or pull up EMR records or the patient’s vitals in real time? 

These needs and more require different image quality, color calibration, and brightness. Even screen glare may need to be considered, as in the case of surgical monitors. 


Medical-grade monitors are more costly than store-bought displays because they’re customized to work in harsh and unforgiving healthcare environments. The price tag can rise if a department like radiology has even more specialized needs. 

Training and User Adaptation

Will time and staff need to be set aside to learn to use the new monitor? While this may sound like a silly consideration, medical-grade monitors have features that are not obvious at first glance. 

Staff will have to be reassured, for example, that it’s okay to spray directly at the screen with hospital-grade cleaners since it’s IP65 sealed against dust and dirt.  

Compatibility and Integration 

Medical-grade monitors are the output device for everything electronic, from medical devices to equipment like medical box PCs. The two need to connect so the monitors can display data. 

Ensure your monitors have the right modern ports like USB-C and legacy ports to connect to older but still-used hospital devices (like older anesthesia machines). 

Vendor Support 

Finally, consider where you buy your medical-grade monitors. Resellers offer wares from numerous vendors, giving you a wide selection to choose from. 

While dealing directly with a manufacturer limits you to only their offerings, resellers will be less flexible in pricing since vendors dictate much of their bottom line. They are also limited in how much they can customize or repair their monitors. Both rely on the vendors and how much support they’re willing to offer in those areas. 

An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has no such limitations with its monitors. Price, customization of features, and support are all negotiable since it has complete control over them. 

Meeting Your Medical-Grade Monitor Needs with Cybernet 

The world of healthcare is as unique as any other human endeavor, from agricultural to oil and gas production. Medical-grade monitors are designed and built for the sector, allowing it to handle 24/7 tasks that would break consumer-grade counterparts.

Contact a Cybernet team professional to discover the myriad benefits of medical-grade monitors. Our professionals are eager to delve into the advantages provided by an Original Design Manufacturer. These include failure rates below 2%, military-grade standard components, an extended lifecycle, and a 3-to-5-year warranty.

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