Using the IEP allows us to communicate across Health Care Organisations facilitating the timely transfer of images to ensure the safe, efficient and effective continuity of patient care, allowing image review to support emergency patient transfers at 24/7. It reduces the requirement for production of hard copy images that have to be sent using Postal or Courier services which are time consuming and costly.
Simplicity, information security and patient integrity
As the service has been implemented, simplicity, information security and patient integrity have been top priorities. Through a standard DICOM connection, the institutions—regardless of the PACS they are using—ensure that radiologists gain on-demand access to the collective patient history of images and examination information that is needed to make the most informed diagnoses possible. For security and integrity reasons, all institutions connecting to the Sectra Image Exchange Portal must sign a data sharing agreement, which defines the responsibilities for patient information sharing, such as who is responsible for obtaining patient consent.
To ensure that users have the correct access rights, the access restrictions built into the Sectra Image Exchange Portal are highly granular and two-way authentication using secure password and a mobile token is needed to log in from unsecured networks. The patient data transfer is secured via a VPN, and all actions are audit logged. Images are maintained in a single source as to avoid duplication.
As a centre of national expertise, it is crucial that BCH is able to send and receive images and their accompanying reports at any given moment. The Trust receives upwards of 50 to 60 cases over IEP every day, of which 50 per cent are typically emergency transfers.
Enhanced care quality and reduced cost
Mr. Alan Salt is a Radiology Information Systems Manager at the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which signed up to the service in 2011. He says: “Up until one year ago, we were sending out hundreds of disks per week, and they could take days to reach their destination. Now it would only take about 30 minutes to look at a full CT scan if it came through urgently.”
According to Salt, the real benefit are for patients, as the Sectra Image Exchange Portal frees up considerable resources in the department and allows people to be treated faster.
The Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has had similar experiences. Since the implementation of the Sectra Image Exchange Portal, patient care has improved since images and reports are now made available for patient appointments which may otherwise be delayed. As CDs no longer have to be produced, a reduction in cost has been noted. And thanks to not having to repeat examinations due to images being unavailable, overall patient radiation exposure has been greatly reduced.
It’s about the immediacy of support for the patient. It begins to stitch the patient record together at the point of access. We’re taking barriers out of people’s way in a way perhaps we haven’t been able to do so before.
Further benefits through XDS option
The Sectra Image Exchange Portal also offers an XDS based option, Sectra IEP Connect & Share™. The option enhances the Portal’s functionality by making access to patient data automatic for authorized users, where it would otherwise be based on on-demand procedures. Sectra IEP Connect & Share conveniently lists all available documentation on the patient over the connected institutions, and users can be confident that no information has been missed due to ignorance. Another advantage is that the XDS standard allows all types of documentation to be shared, not limiting sharing to DICOM objects.
The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which includes six sites, uses the option. Paolo Zanoni, PACS Manager, says: “It’s about the immediacy of support for the patient for a much greater group of clinicians. It begins to stitch the patient record together at the point of access. We’re taking barriers out of people’s way in a manner in which we haven’t been able to do so before.”
“Connect & Share is expected to save a great deal of time for clinical staff by having information in one place and accessing it through a single sign on, which means they will be able to spend more time with the patient and see more patients. Where appointments are contingent on a specialist piece of imaging, staff will be able to see if that imaging has taken place before booking time with a consultant, thus reducing a tremendous amount of frustration and lost episodes,” Zanoni concludes.