Last year, our VP of Technology and Innovation Tom Kimpe and his team conducted a research experiment in collaboration with the radiology department at AZ Groeninge hospital in Kortrijk. They are looking for objective ways to measure eye fatigue due to radiology work. This first experiment prompted promising results, which were presented at RSNA 2020.
Easier said than done
Radiologists daily spend hours in darkened rooms, in front of a screen. They analyze and interpret images that are sometimes highly complex, and that require focus for longer periods of time. This can lead to tiredness, especially in the eyes. Although there is a lot of scientific literature about this, it’s a challenge to find user-friendly objective ways to measure fatigue.
“Many ways of measuring eye fatigue are intrusive, disturbing radiologists in their work. That makes them less reliable,” explains Tom Kimpe.
A subtle setup
So Kimpe’s team came up with an alternative way of measuring eye fatigue: at AZ Groeninge, the hospital close by our HQ, they set up a radiology work environment for five weeks, with subtle additions: a number of cameras, a microphone, a gaze tracker, and a system that logged keyboard and mouse movements.
In this way, the five participating radiologists could work undisturbed, with a simple popup asking them to indicate their tiredness on a scale of one to five every twenty minutes. These poll results could then be compared with data collected by the rest of the installation.
One step at a time
The results of the project were promising, but that doesn’t mean that we now have a final, reliable way of measuring eye fatigue.
“The results we got enable us to further optimize our research on this topic and refine the setup and the model we’re working with”, continues Tom Kimpe. “It is not our intention to distill this into a tool that constantly tracks a radiologist during their work and tells them when they’re tired. Our main goal remains understanding radiologists’ work as well as we can, and especially understanding what conditions provoke tiredness. With that knowledge we can even better support them.” A way to do that, for example, is by further enhancing screen quality and working ergonomics in a way that eye fatigue and tiredness is reduced.
An interesting experience for both parties
The research project not only brought forth positive results for the research teams, but also for the ‘subjects’ themselves. It was an interesting experience for the radiologists to take these moments of reflection and consider how they were feeling, which for instance stimulated building in breaks in order to refresh their energy. A good sign indeed!
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