NIPACS, Northern Ireland

The benefits of country-wide radiology

In September 2008, one of the largest RIS/PACS projects in the world started up with the signing of a ten year contract between the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland and Sectra.

I have been very impressed by the magnificent equipment, which really is of the highest specification, and its proven potential for improving services. This will result in quicker diagnosis and treatment for patients, and will contribute to a much more efficient and productive health and social care system.

Michael McGimpsey, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland

The idea of a regional RIS/PACS was first conceived by the Regional PACS Manager, Ivan Craig, and Lead Consultant Radiologist, Brendan Devlin, more than seven years earlier. Many radiology service users doubted that such a regional agreement could be achieved, but the sharing of data across many distinct organizational boundaries is now in practice. The initial vision has resulted in patient-related radiology data always being available at the point of care, irrespective of patient location. The solution was implemented at record speed: Two data centres have been built and 27 hospitals have been converted in 18 months, either from analogue radiology or from another system, and can now reap the benefits of region-wide radiology.

“One of the main benefits”, explains Ivan Craig, “is the potential for efficient resource-sharing between hospitals within the region.”

The full radiology history, including requests and images, for any patient, is available at any time at any of the region’s hospitals. This permits procedures to be taken at a hospital located close to the patient’s home, reviewed and or read at any site and supports regional specialist follow-up and multi-disciplinary team discussions.

“We have already been able to show significant improvement in response times thanks to the immediate and ubiquitous availability of images and data,” Ivan Craig concludes.

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