In 2017, Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen (UAS) implemented Sectra RIS and PACS to enable its Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy program (MIRT) to better mimic the clinical workflows in its teaching. As a result, the school’s students are now better prepared for the future as radiographers in a fast-changing world.
Students can spend less time on technology, which gives us more time for getting to know clinical workflows and reviewing the images. In the end, that is what the future work of our students is all about. In the future, we will deliver better trained radiographers.
Hanze UAS previously used its PACS only to store images. Jornt de Vries, radiology lecturer and manager of the RIS/PACS at Hanze UAS, says: “We were able to link multiple modalities to our old PACS, so that all images were in one system. But as it only allowed storage, we could not use it in a more innovative way. Also, we recently wrote a new educational vision. This vision states, among other things, that we want to familiarize students with the procedures in a hospital, meaning the clinical processes and underlying workflows. We could not do that with the PACS that we used.”
Sectra won on educational vision
As the old system was outdated, the MIRT program was looking for a new RIS/PACS. They met Sectra at a major radiology fair. “Our first contact was immediately interesting,” says de Vries. “Sectra understood the challenge we face as an educational institution. We were looking for a system that would enable us to prepare our students for their future in the hospital, and one that would allow the teachers to easily handle assignments.”
Hanze UAS issued a call for tenders, which specified this as a central requirement—and ultimately selected Sectra. De Vries continues: “Sectra stood out because of their educational vision. In their software, you can easily combine a clinical and an educational workflow. But they also have a greater vision. They see that developments today happen so fast that you need to learn not only to deal with today’s technology, but also to train students to be future-proof. This means that you need to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to quickly embrace new developments and to familiarize themselves with new technology.”
Security and patient integrity
After deciding to implement Sectra’s solution, Hanze UAS spent six months on preparations. Tom Spierings, head instructor of practical training and functional manager within the MIRT program, says: “We decided to start with an empty database, so we didn’t have to transfer data. That made the process much easier.”
Yet challenges remained. “We opted for a hybrid solution. The PACS is delivered as a cloud-based service from Sectra. However, to guarantee performance at all times, we also decided to have a satellite server in Groningen. In addition, we must ensure compliance with local laws around privacy and patient integrity, which can be especially challenging when using a cloud-based solution.”
During the training, the students are prepared for real life in a radiology department by mimicking the workflows they will later encounter. While doing so, students sometimes take on the role of a patient, for example, going through an MRI examination, and sometimes the role of a radiographer. De Vries explains: “Legally that gets complicated. How do you ensure the secrecy and privacy of a student? We solved it with a permission and confidentiality statement that we have all our students sign. We have linked a lesson module on this subject as well. In this way, we create an awareness about privacy in a relevant and practical way.”
Mixed learning or only e-learning?
During the preparation phase, attention was also paid to the training of teachers. Three teachers underwent a two-day training course at Sectra, during which they were trained to transfer their knowledge to the other teachers under a so called “train the trainer” principle. The actual training of the other teachers consisted primarily of e-learning. Looking back, Spierings would opt for mixed learning in any subsequent implementation. “If you also give classroom training, teachers are more motivated to follow the e-learning modules. In addition, Sectra PACS is very intuitive, so even without training you can easily use the software. But then you obviously run the risk that you may not get to know all functionalities.”
You notice that Sectra likes to think one step ahead and come up with advice so that we can get real added value from the system.
A clinical system that supports the educational setting
The university went live with Sectra PACS on March 1, 2017, with all modalities linked to the PACS. The set-up is the same as in a clinical environment, but with some major differences. Spierings explains: “For example, we regularly let different groups of students work on the same case, such as an MRI examination, resulting in multiple reports for a single patient. This does not occur in a clinical environment.” He praises the help that Hanze UAS received from Sectra in this regard. “We are the odd one out when it comes to their clientele, as our wishes differ from those of a hospital. You notice that Sectra likes to think one step ahead and come up with advice so that we can get real added value from the system.” De Vries adds: “It is easy to move forward with Sectra and get help when needed. You don’t have to pass 28 desks before you have the right person on the line. That works well.”
More time for relevant education
According to Hanze UAS, Sectra PACS is very intuitive. That is a key advantage, says de Vries. “Students can spend less time on technology, which gives us more time for getting to know clinical workflows and reviewing the images. In the end, that is what the future work of our students is all about. In the future, we will deliver better trained radiographers.”
De Vries and Spierings also devote time to the development of new educational modules, for example, in the field of workflow management. “With our old PACS, you couldn’t follow the workflow of a patient,” they say. “Therefore, the curriculum that we offered was limited and only theoretical. Now we can immediately link theory to practice. We can provide insight into all the steps that a patient goes through. For example, we want to develop a module in which we mimic the most common faults or failures in a hospital. This way, students learn what they may encounter in their future work environment. The goal is to make them recognize more quickly when something goes wrong and give them the means to solve it.”
Greater access to clinical cases through Sectra Education Portal
Hanze UAS also has access to a Sectra Table, a multi-touch display workstation that lets teachers and students access clinical cases through the cloud-based service Sectra Education Portal for engaging group lessons and lectures. This makes it possible for the university to not only access images and assignments from the Sectra PACS, but also from tablets, PCs or the 55” Sectra Table. This could enable students to both enhance group discussions and study from any location.
Making students “change-proof”
At the end of the day, de Vries and Spierings want to prepare their students for the jobs of the future. “The world is developing very fast and that means the work in a hospital is constantly changing. We want to prepare our students for that. We make them ‘change-proof’ by giving them insight into how a RIS/PACS works. If you understand the underlying technology, then you will also understand the future technologies better.”