Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has launched a picture archive and communications system (PACS) in a bid to help clinicians access digital images quickly and securely across the trust. The move follows negotiations between 11 NHS trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside to purchase new systems before the national contracts under the now defunct National Programme for IT in the NHS were terminated.
Dr Peter Rowlands, consultant radiologist at Royal Liverpool, said: “With a large number of trusts within the Merseyside region, patients are frequently required to attend different hospital sites for certain types of treatment or services, and sometimes patients have had studies carried out where there is no specialist available to interpret the results. Historically this has meant that the sharing of patient notes and images between hospital sites has been slow and costly. The new PACS will overcome this issue by enabling images to be shared quickly, efficiently, securely and cost effectively.”
Instant sharing of images across the trusts in the consortium will save time for clinicians who need to review patients between sites, which will have a knock on effect of less waiting time for the patient. The new system will also significantly reduce the time it takes to view images scanned at Royal Liverpool. Dr Rowlands said: “Access has been reduced to seconds, rather than minutes or longer as was previously the case. We often suffered queues and sometimes downloading was an overnight event, rather than in real-time.”
The trust also expects that the new system will achieve savings on access costs as all data is held in a vendor neutral archive (VNA) rather than having it hosted by a third party as it was previously.
Dr Rowlands said: “Our strategy is to move all patient notes and correspondence to the VNA over time. We will do the same for the trust’s electronic patient record (EPR) as it develops, so that all our storage is in one place. We chose to do this because it fitted with our ongoing strategy for overall data management and exploitation of Big Data within the trust.”