Cheshire and Merseyside consortium becomes first regional data integration hub for COVID-19 chest imaging database

A consortium of 13 Cheshire and Merseyside NHS trusts has been supported by Royal Philips to become the first regional hub supplying the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID).

The deployment of a single SMART box has provided access to 15 years of imaging data across 2.5 million people in the region, the largest single data source for NCCID. In collaboration with NHSX, The British Society of Thoracic Imaging and The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, NCCID is being used to support a better understanding of the COVID-19 virus to develop technology that will help diagnosis and enable the best care for patients hospitalised with severe infection.

Cheshire and Merseyside engaged with Philips in October last year to deploy the SMART box to enable access to the region’s imaging data through a single hub. Due to the ease of integration of the SMART box via the Philips global worklist, the interface was commissioned in January this year and has since been used for cross-site image retrieval for the NCCID.

Head of scientific computing at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust Professor Mark Halling-Brown said: “One of the findings coming out of the end of this project will definitely be to focus on regional hubs that will be able to coordinate and better centralise the data; a hub just like Cheshire and Merseyside. It can take many months or even years to set up SMART boxes at individual trusts, so doing it regionally is the only way to scale up nationally.”

NCCID is a centralised UK database containing x-ray, CT and MR images from patients across the country. The database is being used for the validation of AI products for use in the NHS, aiding the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in the UK population.

SMART box technology will also enable Cheshire and Merseyside to participate in research into many areas requiring large volumes of de-identified clinical imaging data. As discovered through the NCCID study, the pandemic has highlighted the potential for medical imaging systems powered by AI. The NHS AI Lab, created last year within NHSX, is developing a national medical imaging platform to create a pipe- line for patient data to be used within AI technology across conditions other than COVID-19.

Picture: Thirteen trusts are connected via the SMART box technology from Philips.

Published on page 23 of the June 2021 issue of RAD Magazine.

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