Värmland County Council has been using Sectra PACS as a VNA for sharing and archiving medical multimedia since May 2014. The solution allows secure, cost-effective and centralized storage, as well as the communication of images and other media in various formats—without jeopardizing patient privacy. By integrating the images in the EMR in a simple and secure way, Värmland County Council has been able to create a more comprehensive patient overview.
The benefits we see today include safer diagnostics and easier access to old images for comparison, which will naturally make follow-up easier. This has also contributed to better healthcare quality and increased patient safety.
“When we began to scratch the surface and examine our different operations, we noticed that it had become increasingly common to manage images and other media completely separately from the EMRs. We searched for a multimedia solution that could ensure the best possible healthcare for our patients,” says Thomas Miliander, head architect at Värmland County Council, and continues:
“Together with our new medical technology department, the County Council decided to evaluate various suppliers and solutions. We compared standard document archives with PACS, and realized that the only established format used in many medical technical applications is DICOM. A PACS provides the opportunity to use worklists and access various tools. Accordingly, we decided to move forward and develop our existing PACS infrastructure.”
In 2012, a project was launched in which Sectra, EMR suppliers and the County Council commenced a development and adaptation process. The development phase was followed by a test period, and in spring 2014 there was a joint start-up in the endoscopy and dermatology departments. It was not long before they saw the benefits. Not only did patient safety and healthcare quality increase, the new solution also saved a lot of time.
Improved image quality as a bonus
Improved image quality was an unexpected bonus when the system was introduced at the endoscopy department. In the past, images were stored on a USB memory stick to then be printed, scanned and re-entered into the archive used by the department.
“Every step meant a deterioration in quality. Today, the images maintain the same quality as at the time of examination. In addition, I feel that it is convenient to be able to add images directly to a PowerPoint presentation. Every other week, surgeons, medical students and endoscopists meet to discuss the best treatment for patients. It is therefore important to have high-quality images,” emphasizes Stefan Willmansson, chief medical officer at the endoscopy department.
“The benefits we see today include safer diagnostics and easier access to old images for comparison, which will naturally make follow-up easier,” continues Willmansson. “This has also contributed to better healthcare quality and increased patient safety.”
At the endoscopy department, the number of images produced has increased dramatically. New patient examinations are being added continuously. Recent EU directives require diligent image documentation—and Sectra’s solution for multimedia storage facilitates this process.
The greatest benefit of the multimedia solution—in addition to always having a reference to the patient record in all images—is that the information is made available in a fast, secure and easy way for all who are involved in a patient’s care.
First department-specific viewing solution integrated
“At the end of 2015, the first department using the central storage solution—but with a department-specific viewing solution—went live. The ophthalmology department uses the EMR to schedule examinations, a separate system for analysis and short-term storage and the central multimedia archive for long-term archiving. We have managed to integrate the different systems in an efficient way,” says Marie Moberg, biomedical engineer.
The last piece of the project is to create an external launch from the EMR to the ophthalmology viewing solution.
“It’s exciting to find departments combining the two central components, the multimedia archive and the EMR, with a local best-of-breed solution for their specific needs. It’s great that our solution is that flexible and scalable,” Moberg continues.
New approaches and partnerships
The introduction of the Sectra Enterprise Image Management solution has also improved the efficiency of cooperation within the hospital.
“For our orthopedists and surgeons, it’s an advantage to be able to handle imaging examinations themselves—from booking to archiving with a reference in the patient record. When orthopedists want images to be reviewed during rounds, they can easily send a request to radiology,” says Moberg. “This is a workflow that benefits both our operation and the patients.”
The next step was taken in June 2016. All 30 outpatient clinics can now capture and store images directly in the multimedia archive. If an image relates to a request from the dermatology department, it is immediately accessible to staff who prioritize requests.
Focus going forward
Värmland County Council will continue to improve the workflow for capturing images and videos from mobile devices and cameras, including video from operating theaters.
“The greatest benefit of the multimedia solution—in addition to always having a reference to the patient record in all images—is that the information is made available in a fast, secure and easy way for all who are involved in a patient’s care,” Moberg concludes.