Staff across region gain improved access to images following East Lancashire trust’s PACS installation

Radiologists at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are now well placed to cope with rising demand and better connected with colleagues across the region, since the trust implemented its new PACS.

Installed by imaging technology provider Sectra, the system offers instant access to images from several hospitals in the region and has already started to save staff time when reviewing diagnostic images. For the first time radiologists in East Lancashire are able to work and report from home, helping to mitigate pressures and improve their work/life balance.

Consultant radiologist and chief clinical information officer Dr Tom Newton explained: “The PACS is robust even on low bandwidth connections. Home working has been part of our strategy for years and has now become possible. When on call, if you are at home you can log into the PACS and provide a comprehensive final opinion. This is an important feature in making the discipline more attractive, especially in the north-west where we need to find ways to attract radiologists. It means that a radiologist potentially only needs to come to the hospital three days a week and can work from home for two days. But in the current context of potential self-isolation and social distancing of staff, this is proving to be a crucial technology.”

In addition, the PACS is expected to help radiologists better cope with growing demand. Dr Newton said: “I can report significantly more scans in a day than I did previously because our PACS is much faster. This will help us keep up with the growing number of images we need to report each year, with CT scans alone increasing by 10 per cent year-on-year. It also supports the trust’s ambition of connecting us into a wider network of trusts where we can share resources, access expertise and work together as an integrated system.”

The PACS is already connected to neighbouring University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and will soon connect to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, allowing a seamless and secure flow of imaging as patients move across the region. All three trusts are part of the Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care system.

Other immediate benefits include the fact that clinicians on the ward can use the Uniview function to create 3D reconstructions themselves, so that radiographers no longer need to spend their time creating the reconstructions for clinicians.

Picture: Staff at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital will find home reporting easier.

Published on page 12 of the August 2020 issue of RAD Magazine.

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