The Sectra imaging system will make it easier for trusts to pool radiology resources and reduce the need for duplicate scans
"Cancer patients often move to specialist centres, and others are referred to London hospitals as part of a trauma network and then come back to us, so it is key that we can easily share and access imaging.” Sue Lang, radiology transformation programme manager East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
Hospitals in Kent are to implement a new medical imaging system that will improve workflow and enable patients to receive faster diagnoses.
The Kent and Medway Medical Imaging Consortium, which covers East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust, has procured a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) from Sectra.
Doctors at the trusts will be able to access the images in the PACS wherever they are, making it easier for the trusts to pool resources and balance the workload. A shortage of radiologists has made it harder for trusts to meet demands on imaging, but under the new system, a radiologist in one trust will be able to look at another trust’s images remotely. Radiologists will also be able to view images from home.
Making images accessible to doctors in different hospitals will improve patient safety, because patients won’t need to have duplicate scans taken if they transfer to a different hospital. The new system will also include functionality to monitor radiation dosage.
The PACS system is integrated with third party visualisation tools, so that radiologists will no longer have to log into different applications if they want to access such tools. It is also integrated with the radiology information system (RIS), again avoiding the need to log into a separate system to write reports.
Sue Lang, radiology transformation programme manager for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patients can expect their imaging to follow their care journey – whether that’s within our consortium or beyond.
“For example, cancer patients often move to specialist centres, and others are referred to London hospitals as part of a trauma network and then come back to us, so it is key that we can easily share and access imaging.”
The consortium is also to implement a vendor neutral archive (VNA) from Sectra – a system that is capable of storing images and other unstructured content. Because a VNA uses an XDS standard, the files can be accessed and used by a range of applications, irrespective of supplier.
Initially the consortium’s VNA will store radiology and medical photography, such as X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds, but it is likely to expand it to include other images.
Jane Rendall, managing director at Sectra in the UK and Ireland, said: “Accurate and timely diagnosis is key to inform appropriate treatment. Trusts in Kent will become better connected with each other and with others in the region, as they modernise diagnostic imaging to ensure the best outcomes for patients and create the best possible working conditions for radiologists and healthcare professionals.”
The NHS is short of 2,000 radiologists, according to a census from the Royal College of Radiologists – a national deficit of 33%. The decision by a consortium of Kent trusts to purchase an imaging system that can be accessed from anywhere should be able to help address this effectively. It allows for a greater flexibility in working patterns, so that radiologists in one trust can read images from another trust. The ability to avoid taking duplicate images at different hospitals also leads to more efficiency and provides significant benefits to patient safety.
FCC has written extensively about information and data sharing across institutions in health and care, and was pivotal in the scoping of a value framework for medical imaging data alongside the National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging (NCIMI).