Faster access to images and records set to improve patient care
Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has implemented a vendor neutral archive (VNA) to store millions of medical images from its new picture archive and communications system (PACS) as part of its electronic patient record strategy.
The new system will allow clinicians to access and share images and other electronic patient notes from any location or device in a fraction of the time previously taken. In addition, the trust sees its investment as part of an over-arching strategy to improve its IT ahead of the move to its state-of-the-art hospital due to open in 2017. This will include moving to a ‘paper-light’ model of managing patient records and other content. The trust has already migrated 87 million existing images to the new VNA.
Now we will be able to provide better, quicker access to patient data meaning clinicians will be able to see more patients and have more time to explain diagnoses and related treatment plans, thereby improving the quality of care
Sarah Lomax, project manager for PACS and VNA at the trust, said: “We chose a truly-open platform since it allows us to go beyond the scope of PACS by storing and managing other content alongside medical images. To maximise the benefits, we decided to integrate our VNA plans with our electronic document and records management strategy using the same infrastructure.
“Now we will be able to provide better, quicker access to patient data meaning clinicians will be able to see more patients and have more time to explain diagnoses and related treatment plans, thereby improving the quality of care.”
The trust also plans to share its new VNA facility with other healthcare providers, which will give its clinicians and external partners instant access to patients’ medical images and associated case notes at the point of need.
All images are stored in the VNA, supplied by SynApps Solutions, as intelligent digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) files, the universal format for PACS image storage and transfer. Once in this format, non-image data, such as clinical reports, can be incorporated using other industry standard formats, such as PDF. The trust can view images on any type of device and can from multiple systems.
Sharron Dyce, the trust’s PACS manager, said: “Selecting a future-proofed solution that used a standards-based format was critical to ensure content could be accessed by any new systems implemented across the trust or by any device. Plus storing images to the industry standard will help when we come to review our PACS requirements in five years’ time, meaning we avoid data migration problems if we change. We now regard our PACS and VNA as interchangeable components. It makes things a lot easier if the data is kept independent.”
. With the new system, we can scale it right out and help other NHS organisations seeking a VNA solution for their medical content
In future the VNA will store DICOM images from any department within the trust, thereby reducing fragmentation of patient records and allowing easier, auditable access by clinicians while reducing costs. Moreover, the trust will make significant savings on access costs by controlling its own data since images are no longer hosted off-site or managed by a third party, as was the case with its previous PACS contract.
Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing (XDS) capability means it will also be possible for images to be linked with other patient documents, which can then be published to external directories where appropriate. This will enable other NHS organisations outside the region to be given access to images or patient records where these are required to treat patients in other hospitals.
Lomax said: “Not every trust is at the same point in their journey towards implementing a VNA. With the new system, we can scale the system right out and help other NHS organisations seeking a VNA solution for their medical content.”