Liverpool hospital trust deploys cost-cutting digital image system

Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has gone live with a revolutionary picture archive and communications system (PACS), which will enable clinicians to cost-efficiently access and share millions of digital images quickly and securely across the trust.

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Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has gone live with a revolutionary picture archive and communications system (PACS), which will enable clinicians to cost-efficiently access and share millions of digital images quickly and securely across the trust.

The implementation follows two years of negotiations between a consortium of 11 NHS trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside to procure new systems, before the termination of national contracts under the now disbanded National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS.

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."

He said: “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 11 trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside means clinicians will now save around one hour per patient needing to be reviewed between sites, resulting in less waiting time for the patient.

Other benefits of the new PACS include the dramatic reduction in time taken to view images scanned at Royal Liverpool. “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,” said Dr Rowlands.

The trust also expects to make additional savings on access costs, since it now controls all data held in a newly implemented vendor neutral archive (VNA), rather than having it hosted by a third party under the previous PACS contract.

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."

The new PACS will also support remote and flexible working, as consultants can now work from different sites and from home when necessary, using a secure network to keep patient data safe.

Between the new PACS and VNA the trust says it has saved over a third on what it cost with the previous contract. The new Royal Liverpool PACS five-year managed service agreement is with Carestream UK.

Earlier this year Royal Liverpool said its 4,500 medical staff were using Symantec's Mobile Management System to enable secure mobile working (https://www.computerworlduk.com/news/networking/3436733/liverpool-and-broadgreen-nhs-trust-enables-mobile-working-with-symantec/).

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