Instead of reading 10 images for a patient diagnosis, radiologists today are faced with machines that are capable of outputting hundreds of images and a lot more detailed information than before, says Carlos Amato, healthcare principal at Cannon Design’s Los Angeles office.

“These are individuals under pressure and in the middle of a constant invasion of information that constantly interrupts them, and still what they need to do at the end of the day is decide what to do with the life of that patient,” he says.

In addition to evolving technologies, the focus throughout healthcare on collaborative decision-making means patient diagnoses and treatments are being made by multidisciplinary teams, including radiologists as well as cardiologists, pharmacists, and nurses—all factors that are leading some facilities to rethink their reading room environments.

When Dr. George Bisset joined Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston in 2010, he says his staff was scattered throughout the hospital in seven different departments with work spaces that housed ill-fitting desks, inconsistent lighting, and old computer monitors. “It was the antithesis of what I had a vision for,” he says.

Working with a medical imaging workstation and furniture company based in Canada, he set out to create a more unified department that would serve as a central location for radiology services. The 2,268-square-foot reading room, which opened in spring 2015, features a ballroom-concept layout with specialties grouped together in pods around the room to enhance collaboration.

Partitioned workstations are designed with sound-proofing wallcovering and ceiling materials and ambient lighting that can be adjusted to an employee’s preference.

To help minimize interruptions, the department added a concierge desk at the entrance to help direct phone calls and answer questions. New staff offices and a collaborative meeting space next door host daily meetings where staff can discuss such topics as the day’s schedule and safety updates.

Overall, Bisset says the environment is leading to improved output and better collaboration. “Any time that happens, it improves patient care,” he says.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at