We have a very high throughput, so efficiency is key. It is of vital importance that the PACS is stable and easy to use. You should be able to spend your time reading cases, not clicking the mouse. And with Sectra’s solution I can do just that.
“Sweden has been a leading country in terms of mammography screening and we were actually the first mammography operation in Sweden to be fully digitized,” says Katarina Rönnow, MD Radiology at Helsingborg Breast Unit. “In close partnership with Sectra, we digitized our analogue workflow. I was there and it was an exciting and challenging journey.”
During the long relationship between Sectra and Helsingborg University Hospital, the RIS and PACS have obviously both evolved a great deal, but they are still the same core products. They have never once had to go through a forklift upgrade.
The top goal for Helsingborg’s mammography department today is the same as when it went digital in late 2002 – increased reading efficiency in order to provide the best possible patient care. Eva Johansson, one of the radiologists at the breast unit, comments: “We have a very high throughput, so efficiency is key. It is of vital importance that the PACS is stable and easy to use. You should be able to spend your time reading cases, not clicking the mouse. And with Sectra’s solution I can do just that.”
At a breast unit like Helsingborg, there is a natural need for images from different types of modalities. In order to maintain reading efficiency, the PACS must be able to handle that. Today, all images, regardless of the modality in which they are taken, are read using Sectra Breast Imaging PACS, and the system’s speed and ease-of-use are essential.
Dr Rönnow confirms that this is an important advantage of Sectra PACS: “It’s a true multimodality solution, allowing images from different modalities such as ultrasound and MRI to be displayed side-by-side with the mammograms. This is particularly important in symptomatic mammography and when we have our multi-disciplinary team meetings.”
Collaboration for shortened lead times
The breast unit in Helsingborg diagnoses and treats various types of breast disease, primarily breast cancer. Radiologists, breast surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, nurses and secretaries work as a team around the patient to provide accurate diagnosis and management of these breast diseases. This is common today, but when Helsingborg reorganized, they were again early adapters.
“We formed Sweden’s first true breast unit in 2002 when we moved to new facilities together with the breast surgeons,” Dr Rönnow says. “Working closely with the rest of the multi-disciplinary team, whose primary focus is breast care, has enabled us to achieve an efficient patient flow, shortening our lead times, which is crucial in cancer care.”
Collaboration between the different radiologists in the region is also essential. All mammography departments within Region Skåne use Sectra RIS and PACS, making sharing and work load balancing easy.
“We help to balance the workload in the region,” says Dr Rönnow. “If someone is sick or if a mammography department at another hospital needs relief, we can easily help each other as we work in the same system and can read examinations remotely. Also, when I read my cases, all images are available, regardless of where in the region the women were previously examined, providing me with a full patient overview.”
A flexible RIS to support efficient customer service
All administration relating to the screening operations in Region Skåne is managed by the private healthcare provider Unilabs’ central customer service located in Helsingborg. The customer service also takes care of the administration of Unilabs’ mammography operations outside the region. The customer service team in Helsingborg handles the booking of half of all women screened in Sweden in Sectra RIS.
“We are under high pressure,” says Anette Magnusson, customer service manager and acting operations manager in Region Skåne. “It requires that we have a flexible system in order to manage. I have worked in a number of RISes, and Sectra RIS is very intuitive and we have found that there is no functionality missing. If you’ve worked in Sectra RIS you will not be satisfied with any other system.”
Increasing participation rates
The breast unit is actively working to increase the participation rates for screening mammography.
“We have a very high participation rate, as much as 82%,” says Anette Magnusson. “But we still work very hard to increase it. For example, we have started a ‘participation project’, where a reminder is sent out manually to all women who have not attended their regular screening examination. This has resulted in 30% of the women who received the reminder having their screening examination.”
The participation project will be supported in the next product release for Sectra RIS, with a module to automate the process. Annette comments: “This is just one example of where we as a customer have worked closely together with Sectra to develop the product according to our needs.”