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Medical Imaging: RIS-PACS

Before we can understand and treat our patients, we need to understand and diagnose their condition. Often this starts with a medical image. Millions of medical images are captured at NSW public hospitals every year, including x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, nuclear medicine scans and ultrasounds. These images need to be stored safely and be readily accessible for clinicians, particularly those who work in rural or remote locations.

Radiology information systems and picture archiving and communication systems (RIS-PACS) are electronic solutions used by medical imaging departments to manage their services.

They track a patient’s journey from an image request through to diagnosis – storing key information, digital images and results for easy access by treating teams.

eHealth NSW is working in partnership with various organisations across NSW to implement a new RIS-PACS platform. It will provide enhanced diagnostic services with easy and immediate access to images and results, allowing doctors to make timely decisions regarding patient care.

Around one billion existing images will be migrated to the new system and clinicians will receive timely notifications about images/results. The new system will have increased reliability and enable critical medical imaging information sharing among healthcare providers.

This means patients get the best possible care, through improved clinical collaboration, within and across health organisations. Patients will also receive improved services such as appointment reminders via SMS and the potential to view their own medical images online.

eHealth NSW is building a patient-centred, state-of-the-art solution that will closely integrate with other core clinical systems, including the electronic medical record (EMR), patient administration system (PAS) and enterprise imaging repository (EIR).

When is this happening and who is involved?

The new RIS-PACS platform will begin a staggered roll-out in 2020 and is expected to be fully implemented across the 11 participating NSW Health organisations in 2020.

Benefits of the new RIS-PACS system

  • Patient images will be accessible to clinicians working in different hospitals and in remote locations. For example, when a patient presents with symptoms that requires diagnostic imaging in a NSW public hospital, any related prior images captured in another participating public hospital can be viewed by the treating and reporting clinicians. This has diagnostic benefits and means patients will no longer need to carry films/images with them.
  • Safety benefits, including critical results management and radiation dose tracking.
  • Instant access to prior images to assist with diagnosis and referrals.
  • Improved security of patient information by storing images on a secure and fully auditable system.
  • Integration with other NSW Health systems to provide clinicians with a complete picture of the patient’s health status.
  • Vendor-neutral archiving, meaning different types of images can be stored and readily retrieved no matter what format they are in or which system they came from originally.
  • SMS reminders for patients about forthcoming appointments, improving efficiency at hospitals.

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