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Archive October 2018 XIX, No. 10

7 Tips for a Successful 4K Conversion

Inside our $2 million upgrade to ultra-high definition imaging.

John Kelly

John Kelly, MD


University of Massachusetts Medical School
COLOR YOUR WORLD Decide what's most important to you — image, implementation, price — when transitioning from HD to 4K video.

Moving from HD to 4K sounds easy, but it can be a big deal. And it can be a big headache if the transition isn't done right. Here at UMass Memorial Medical Center, we recently upgraded to ultra-high definition surgical video, investing around $2 million for 19 4K towers. From running a trial to training our surgeons and staff, here are 7 tips for a successful conversion to 4K video.

1. Know when it's time to upgrade. I loved the HD video equipment that we had when it came out. I liked the screen and picture and my eyes were used to it. But we realized a few years ago that it had outlived its age because, among other things, reliability became an issue. There were some pauses in the images, the wiring was going bad, camera heads wouldn't read correctly and the colors would be off and you'd have to adjust them. The images just weren't as sharp.

When those glitches happened during procedures, we had backup, but there was a lot more service required with more frequency. And because it was old equipment, that made it more difficult to maintain and service. Even the company was saying there was only so much it could do to keep it working. Bottom line: HD was a workhorse for us, but it was time to change horses.

2. Do a trial run. Yes, we all know that a 4K video image is 4 times the resolution of regular full HD, but nothing compares to seeing it for yourself on a 55-inch 4K UHD monitor. You can go to conferences and see presentations, but until you see it in the OR, you can't appreciate the sense of immersion that brings you closer to every detail.

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