Care closer to home has taken a giant step forward within the SWODIN Region with the transition to the latest Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) at St. Joseph’s, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), and the regional hospitals.
PACS is used in health care to digitally capture, store, distribute and display patients’ medical images for interpretation or review by their clinical team. It allows electronic images and reports to be quickly transmitted to, and accessed by, any hospital site with the technology.
In 2004, St. Joseph became the first hospital in the region to deploy PACS, which was expanded to LHSC and hospitals across the region. With the current PACS solution approaching 15 years old and no longer being developed, new solutions were sought to improve functionality both within and across organizations, explains David Veeneman, Integrated Director, Corporate Solutions and Regional PACS, Information Technology Services. The primary goals included addressing limitations with the existing system, positioning the hospitals for future needs, and allowing more organizations to come onboard.
Through a formal competitive bidding process, St. Joseph’s and LHSC entered into a long-term relationship with Agfa Healthcare Inc. to implement its Enterprise Imaging platform to replace the current GE PACS solution. The new solution achieves the goals while reducing total cost of ownership, says David. “In addition to the current group of hospitals sharing the PACS system in Thames Valley, the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance as well as the Grey Bruce Health Services group will come onboard in a second phase,” says David. “This new technology will also support potential future projects.”
For radiologists, “the new Agfa PACS will improve our ability to perform interpretations of complex imaging studies, and also provide timely reports for our referring physicians and patients,” says Dr. Justin Amann, Site Chief, Radiology, at St. Joseph’s.
Among the benefits of the Enterprise Imaging platform are:
- The new PACS system allows radiologists to be provided with historical images that are relevant to the current diagnosis under review. This speeds up the process and supports a more accurate diagnosis.
- The new system will eventually enable seamless access to all diagnostic imaging patient data in LHINs 1,2,3, 4.
- With additional hospitals on board, the new system supports care closer to home, reducing the need for patient travel.
- The full PACS client can be installed anywhere in the enterprise, greatly improving workflow and access.
- The new ‘zero footprint’ viewer (which means it doesn’t require any added hardware or software) supports a much broader range of devices and browsers.
- There are embedded collaboration tools for real-time physician-to-physician communication.
- Three is added capability to expand outside of traditional diagnostic imaging.
- The new system allows for tighter integration with the regional imaging repository, reducing technical complexity and improving data quality
Overall, says Narinder Paul, Chair/Chief, Medical Imaging, “an integrated, state-of-the-art, system-wide PACS provides a more comprehensive understanding of the patient’s journey through the health care system and allows more accurate and appropriate decision making.”
The transition to Agfa PACS was successfully rolled out June 19-22 to all organizations that shared the older platform – 16 hospitals in total. The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance became the first group of hospitals to transmit an image using the new system.