Tag Archives: medical monitor

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How to Prepare for the Future of Medical Imaging

Reading, understanding, and making a diagnosis from a radiological or other medical scan is no easy feat, even for expert radiologists and doctors.

Sometimes, signs get missed, visual illusions appear in the scan, or important factors get obscured. This is called “interpretive error,” and it means the scan was read or interpreted incorrectly.

“Interpretive error” is still a huge nightmare for hospitals, patients, and doctors. In a study from April of 2017, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, it was found that the rate of interpretive error in radiology hasn’t changed significantly since 1949. With almost 70 years of technological progress between now and then, how is that possible?

And what can be done to improve it?

In Medical Imaging, High-Quality Visuals Are King

In the study mentioned above by the AJR, perceptual errors “account for 60 to 80% of interpretive errors.” This just means that either the scan or the method of viewing the scan was unclear, and a mistake was made.

Beverly P. Wood M.D., at the USC School of Medicine, described the process very much like learning how to read. She writes that the radiologist or tech must hone their skill through long practice, creating a “mental library of images and patterns” and instinctively learn how to interpret them correctly. She also stresses that visual stimuli are the most important markers for human perception, and that “at least 80% of incoming stimuli are visually based.”

Which is exactly why it’s so important that medical monitors and medical panel PCs be high resolution, offer a solid refresh rate, and have a bright display. The key to more accurate readings is to make sure that imaging techs and clinicians have the best set of eyes on the problem.

The New Tech on the Block

As computer processors speed up, medical imaging has taken a great leap forward.

Today’s widescreen, 4k medical computers are high-definition, certified for EN-60601-1 and UL60950, and can even include antiglare technology that provides a crisp and clean picture for spotting even the smallest details of a scan no matter the lighting conditions.

Of course, the hardware underneath the screen is also pushing the future of medical imaging tech ever closer.

Make Better Decisions with 3D Imaging

Increased processing and data transfer speeds have allowed 3D imaging to move from grainy, artifact-laden images to true three-dimensional tomography with volumetric rendering.

CT scans can create full 3D maps of veins and arteries, brain tissue, tumors, skeletal structure, and even exact organ placement.

State-of-the-art medical monitors, combined with purpose-built imaging devices, allow these near sci-fi levels of medical imaging and radiology to be used by hospitals around the world.

Soak Up Fewer Rays with Ghost Imaging

A new form of 3D imaging, “ghost imaging” or “ghost tomography” exposes the patient to fewer x-rays while still maintaining a visual picture.

Ghost imaging uses two x-ray beams of the same phase and intensity. One of these beams is fired at the primary target to be imaged (i.e., the patient), while the other is fired at a special panel to serve as a “control” beam. The difference in intensities between the two beams are then calculated on a computer and used to create an image.

While this can be done with various kinds of EM radiation on the spectrum, when done with x-rays it can create medical scans with far less radiation exposure to the patient.

This not only reduces chances of cancer and other harmful side-effects, but it also means the patient can get more frequent scans should they have to without increased radiation exposure.

The tech is still early days, but once the visuals are improved ghost imaging could represent a huge sea change in imaging tech.

Improve Point-of-Care Diagnosis with Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable ultrasound devices are already moving into the market. Though expensive at the moment — upwards of $4,000 — pocket ultrasound devices like the GE Vscan may ultimately replace the common stethoscope as the go-to portable diagnosis device for clinicians.

Handheld ultrasound devices are roughly the size of a jumbo cell phone, and come with a small probe attached by a thin cable. This probe takes the place of the usual ultrasound “wand,” but at a fraction of the size.

The pocket ultrasound can hear and visualize heartbeats, providing healthcare workers with far more accurate and detailed data right at the first point of care.

There are also options like the Philips Lumify, an ultrasound app that can be used on any smartphone or medical tablet in conjunction with a USB transducer probe that plugs into most standard devices.

See More with Advanced AI

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are best for taking massive amounts of data and combining it to find patterns and categorize information. As anyone who works in or near the medical field is aware, there’s no shortage of work finding patterns and categorizing information.

Companies like LG and Samsung, for instance, have announced that they’re using AI algorithms to improve the accuracy of their imaging devices. These pattern-detecting and image-extrapolating programs are able to take only partial or obscured scans and render them fully visible via sampling and educated extrapolation.

These scans can detect lung nodules hidden by rib bones, or help increase breast cancer diagnoses by up to 5%, especially amongst younger or inexperienced doctors.

Advanced AI coupled with modern imaging hardware can even detect cartilage thickness or determine whether a stroke is being caused by a hemorrhage or a blood clot.

Embedding Medical Panel PCs into Imaging Machines

Medical machine manufacturers are making better use of existing medical computers, medical tablets, and medical panel PCs to serve as the brains and interfaces for their imaging machines.

Why reinvent the wheel and design a computer from the ground up in addition to a high-tech imaging machine when there are plenty of medical computers perfectly designed to do the job? A medical panel PC with a touchscreen interface is simple to use, and can even come with features like antimicrobial housing, fanless design, and IP65 certification.

The antimicrobial housing creates a hostile environment for bacteria, preventing them from growing on the PC and spreading to other users. The fanless design prevents the computer from pushing air around and potentially spreading airborne contagions. And the IP65 rating means two very important things for medical machines:

First, it means that the computer can be sprayed down with disinfectant and other cleaning solutions and wiped clean without damage to the device.

The IP65 rating also means that the case is hardened against physical particle intrusion, preventing dust, dirt, and other mediums from entering the case.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Staying up to date on medical imaging technology is a moving target, but visuals, processing power, and innovation will always be key components to radiological, ultrasonic, or tomographic scanners of any kind.

Contact Cybernet to learn more about how medical monitors and medical panel PCs can augment and improve medical imaging machines.  

 

Medical Device End of Life Cycle

3 Ways to Extend the Life of Legacy Medical Devices

Legacy technology is defined as technology which is no longer produced (or in many cases even supported), but which still functions and can be used. The medical industry is filled with legacy technology, and while it eventually becomes necessary to sundown a given piece of medical tech – retiring it from use and buying a new piece of equipment to put in its place – prudent administrators won’t do so as long as the device continues to work and provide reliable patient care.

Medical computers make an excellent means of getting the most value out of legacy technology: overcoming some of the challenges and difficulties they embody, and ensuring that they can do their jobs as long as possible. The right computer can address the specific problems created by legacy technology, allowing your organization to continue to use it with modern medical grade PCs and similar upgraded equipment. Here’s a quick list of some of the things to look for.

Legacy Ports Keep Older Systems Up to Date

Older technology often uses obsolete ports to connect to other components, such as RS-232 ports. RS stands for “recommended standard,” and the ports themselves entailed rows of pins inserted into fitted holes to make a connection. They were in place on electronic devices starting in 1960, and remained a staple in various configurations for many years, but advancing technology gradually phased them out. USB ports, which are standard on many modern pieces of equipment, are easier to use, provide faster connections and use much less power.

That can cause a problem with legacy devices that still depend on RS-232 to interface with a computer or a printer. It sounds like a comparatively minor problem, but if it can’t be resolved, it may force the organization to replace the device simply to provide interoperability with a modern medical computer… even if the device in question still works just fine from every other perspective.

A modern medical PC with customizable ports can solve that problem quite easily. An RS-232 port (or similarly outdated connection) can be included through an expansion slot for use with a piece of legacy medical equipment, allowing for swift integration and ease of access without having to replace the whole system.

Secure Computers Can Reduce the Security Risks of Legacy Devices

Legacy devices can present unique security concerns in our era of cybernetic intrusion. Data from a medical network can fetch a high price on the black market – even more than credit card numbers – and incidents such as the LabCorp data breach earlier this year are only growing in numbers. A recent report from HealthCare IT news estimated that more than 3 million patient records in the United States were breached between April and June of 2018, and that number is only likely to grow in the future.

On May 31, the American Hospital Association issued a warning to Congress, stating that legacy medical devices are “a key vulnerability for hospitals and health systems.” Many of them were built before such threats were serious, and even those built in the digital age are vulnerable. (Development time from concept to market often takes years, and security measures put into place may become obsolete before the device even hits the market.)

The warning urges hospitals and medical providers to provide their own answers to the problem, rather than waiting for guidance from the government. Yet it also notes that replacing such devices en masse simply isn’t practical for most medical organizations, given the costs involved.

A modern medical all-in-one computer can make a cost-effective solution to the problem and help keep legacy devices protected with updated security measures. Imprivata single sign-on, for instance, uses RFID readers or fingerprint scanners to ensure that only qualified personnel can access the system. Multiple LAN ports allow IT personnel to connect devices to both the internet and an intranet, which allows older devices to communicate with one another without being connected to the outside world. These are just some of the ways that medical grade computers can help secure legacy devices and extend their lifespan.

Multi-Use Devices

Few medical organizations replace or update their computer systems all at once. Instead, it’s usually a piecemeal process delivered in stages, with a few units being replaced at a time. The AHA estimates that many hospitals can only afford to replace about 10 percent of their devices in a given year, and indeed, this “stagger” is one of the reasons why legacy devices continue to be used.

That can create significant problems with a device that can’t properly integrate with the remainder of a medical organization’s network. For example, say a hospital uses a legacy x-ray machine whose DICOM files can’t be read by the most modern computers. If the images generated by that machine are needed on short notice – say, in an operating room – the lack of flexibility can create a huge delay.

All-in-one computers with upgradable options make an elegant “bridge” solution to such issues by interfacing with legacy devices while serving as a connection for newer systems. To take the above example, an all-in-one PC might have the ability to read the x-ray images from the legacy device, convert them into an easily readable format and forward them to a new medical monitor much more quickly and effectively. In so doing, it allows the x-ray machine to continue functioning: letting the hospital get the maximum use from the investment and delaying the day when the machine needs to be replaced.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a high-end line of medical computers that can be customized to work with a wide variety of legacy devices. Contact our team today to learn more.

A Brief Introduction to Medical Grade Monitors

Radiologists, surgeons, medical physicians, and information technology specialists routinely rely on medical monitors for diagnostic, surgery, and treatment purposes. In medical imaging diagnostics, the human is the “brain,” but the medical imaging monitor is the “eyes.”

Medical professionals require medical grade monitors for an accurate and consistent performance of the medical image display system. Too much is at stake in a system where sub-par technology or inaccurate calibration can result in misdiagnosis. So, adequate medical monitors are the key element of the medical image viewing platform powering modern hospitals.

There is a wide availability of IT solutions from consumer grade to high-end medical grade gray-scale or color monitors to meet the demands of any hospital department. However, not every solution can provide the quality of the medical image displayed on the monitor that would be adequate for diagnostic purposes. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for all medical imaging purposes. That is why decision-makers need to involve the IT department and members of the care team working with medical images when selecting medical monitors.

LCD Technologies Used in Modern Monitors

  • TN Panel: Twisted Nematic (TN) is the oldest and the most common panel type. It is also cheap because it is easy to manufacture – you can see them in low-end monitors and laptops. Its strongest point is the fast response time. When coupled with a LED backlighting, TN monitors are energy-efficient and provide high brightness. However, the color distortions at moderate to wide viewing angles results in low quality of the image, and low accuracy.
  • IPS Panel: In-Plane Switching monitors reproduce colors noticeably better than TN. IPS also offers better readability and color stability at extreme viewing angles. However, IPS panels have a lower light transmittance than Vertical Alignment monitors. With the advent of S-IPS (Super-IPS), the response time and contrast have improved. IPS also allows for color calibration.
  • VA Panel: Vertical Alignment (VA) is the technology that combines the advantages of the above two, offering better light and color transmittance. Yet, the contrast is poor at extreme viewing angles.
  • MVA Panel: Multi-Domain Vertical Alignment (MVA) is a combination of a VA panel and a compensation film. It offers excellent image quality at extreme viewing angles, and a fast response time surpassing that of the IPS monitors. MVA also offers better blacks and contrast than IPS or TN monitors. The color reproduction of an MVA monitor is better than that of the TN. MVA medical monitors combine high quality with affordable price – a perfect fit for clinical review purposes.
  • AFFS Panel: Advanced Fringe Field Switching (AFFS) offers superior performance, color reproduction and high luminosity, minimum color distortion at extreme viewing angles and great white/gray reproduction. AFFS is used in high-end panels in commercial aircraft displays mounted in cockpits. Later it evolved into HFFS (High-Transmittance Fringe Field Switching) and AFFS+ with enhanced readability on outdoor environments. The most expensive type.

The choice of panel is crucial. It determines whether the monitor is:

  • good at reproducing colors (for the ultimate accuracy of your diagnostic images)
  • responsive and fast (very important if the medical monitor is used during surgeries)

Of note are the calibration capabilities of the monitor. Calibration allows you to use professional graphics monitors for diagnostic interpretation if basic calibration and set up guidelines are followed. Higher resolution monitors do not necessarily translate into superior diagnostic quality if calibration and set up guidelines are not followed. Irrespective of the monitor type, it must be regularly checked for calibration conformance using a centralized monitoring system.

Types of Medical Monitors

When selecting medical monitors, you need to have a clear idea of your intended use and requirements that stem from it. You can not buy the same monitors for all your departments. A healthcare facility needs a reasonable combination of medical monitors that meet the specific requirements of each department.

Depending on the intended use, the medical monitors differ in properties. The differences in properties – and prices – are significant.

Surgery Room – Surgical Grade Medical Monitor

Used by surgeons, these medical monitors require fast response time as surgeons rely on them to view movements of the instruments and the state of the tissue during surgery. Perfect readability at extreme viewing angles is a must, so an antiglare film is needed.

The surgical grade medical monitors call for 300-500 nits brightness. Other critical requirements stem from the sterile environment in the operating rooms and the number of peripherals and devices that must be connected to the monitor.

Hence, surgical grade medical monitors must have an antimicrobial coating to prevent the spread of germs in the OR. IP65 rating (waterproof casing, sealed bezels) is also a must-have feature, as these monitors must be able to withstand:

  • CDC-mandated disinfection with liquid chemical solutions
  • accidental spills and splashes (medication, blood)

Additionally, surgical grade medical monitors must support multiple video modes, such as picture-in-picture, and dual screen mode. To connect various peripherals such as cameras and other vitals tracking that the surgeon needs on one screen, surgical grade medical monitors require a selection of ports that would accommodate the required devices (HDMI, DP, DVI-I, SDI, Composite, RS323, USB).

Radiology – Diagnostic-Grade Medical Monitor

Radiologists need the highest possible color reproduction, and contrast alongside DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine standard) certification, especially the grayscale build as these are used to review X-Ray images. The requirements for these monitors are most stringent. They must reproduce color in its smallest variations, true blacks, and grays. Diagnostic-grade medical monitors require excellent image uniformity and high brightness to reproduce images at 800+ nits.

Clinical Review – Medical Touchscreen Monitor

Many medical specialists need a secondary display for PACS quality control or modality viewing. The primary monitors are used by medical practitioners to interpret images for billing and reports that other doctors use to make the healthcare decisions. The secondary monitors are multipurpose and are used for more than just viewing medical images. Secondary medical monitors serve for patient edutainment purposes, office work, review by surgeons and clinicians, PACS quality assurance and image acquisition.

Even though primary monitors are at the forefront, secondary monitors can not be consumer grade because the consistent quality and efficiency of the imaging chain rely on:

  • quality of image acquisition
  • efficiency of the IT solution used for secondary display purposes
  • interpretation quality assurance
  • reliable and accurate reproducibility of a medical image at each stage (primary and secondary medical monitor)

Physicians relying on medical monitors for clinical review require a touch screen that is not only accurate and medical-grade, but also multipurpose and can be used for electronic documentation, EHR, patient edutainment. The touchscreen is ideal as it eliminates the need for peripherals (keyboard, mouse) and is ergonomic for settings where you need to limit the wire clutter to ensure patient safety.

The clinical review monitor does not call for a DICOM certification. Instead, it needs the antimicrobial coating to cap the spread of germs, and waterproof bezels to withstand disinfection with liquid solutions.

In many cases, clinical review monitors call for the antiglare coating to enhance viewing from extreme angles and in different lighting conditions.

Final Words

Medical practitioners must be working with medical grade monitors – no less. When screening vendors, take into account the following criteria:

  • Panel type: image quality, color stability at different viewing angles, response time, calibration options, quality assurance. Consider if there is a need for an anti-glare coating.
  • Touchscreen/no touchscreen: to use with or without keyboard and mouse if there is a requirement to remove wire clutter.
  • Certifications: DICOM, CDC, IP, 60601-1, etc.
  • Safety for near-patient use and use in sterile environments: antimicrobial coating, waterproof build.
  • Ports: ample selection of ports to connect required devices and peripherals.
  • Mounting: VESA, desktop, medical cart.

Cost considerations tend to guide monitor selection, but it is important to remember that medical grade monitors end up having a lower Total Cost of Ownership than consumer-grade ones due to low failure rate (less than 2% with Cybernet monitors), MIL-STD components, long lifecycle and 3-5-year warranty. In other words, they last significantly longer, and while they last – they give you the peace of mind as you rest assured of the reproducible quality and accuracy of your medical images.