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Diagnostic Imaging

Interior Health invests $12 million in PACS

KELOWNA, B.C.  Picture this! A broken limb mending and monitored miles from where it was set... a surgeon tracking the growth of a tumour from diagnosis to surgery. Interior Health is in this picture spending $12 million to create a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS).

Building upon the existing success of the imaging system in the Thompson Cariboo, PACS allows physicians to access images of their patients from virtually anywhere in Interior Health, and images are archived so that they are quickly accessible for review and transfer to any site within IH at any time of the day or night.

This significantly improves access to healthcare for patients in smaller communities. It will be the first time in British Columbia that a patient's images are directly linked into their Electronic Health Record.

Here's how one doctor explains the benefits of these images for her patients:
"PACS will mean that I can correlate a patient's tests done at other facilities in IH with the ones done here," stated Dr. Sue Babensee, a radiologist at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, B.C.

"For example, if a patient breaks her arm at a baseball tournament in Penticton, has x-rays and the arm set there, then returns to Trail, we can do the follow-up x-ray and make a direct comparison with the x-ray taken in Penticton. That x-ray will be immediately accessible on the IH PACS system, so we don't have to wait for a copy of the x-ray to be sent from Penticton. This increases the timeliness and quality of that patient's care."

"Another major advantage will be in treating cancer patients," adds Dr. Babensee. "Say I detect a brain tumor during a scan of a patient here. When that patient goes to Kelowna for surgery or radiation therapy, at the moment they must take the printed scan with them -- and that's often not returned to us. When we do a scan three months later, we no longer have the original to compare it with. With this new system, nothing will need to be printed and the oncologist and neurosurgeon in Kelowna will have the same access to all diagnostic tests done as the patient's home physician."

Interior Health is proud to be working with a BC-based organization for the PACS acquisition. "McKesson Medical Imaging Group is headquartered in Richmond, B.C., and its Horizon Medical Imaging PACS solution was developed there. We look forward to a "Made in B.C." partnership," said Chris Mazurkewich, chief operating officer for Interior Health's business initiatives.

The Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District, the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District, the North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap Regional Hospital District and the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District are paying 40 percent of the $12 million cost of this project

The $12 million investment is one of a series of capital expenditures within Interior Health made to improve patient care. More than $35 million has been invested in the last 2 years to purchase diagnostic equipment, including 10 Ultrasounds, 2 CT Scanners, 16 X-Ray systems, 4 Gamma Cameras and 4 mobile C-arms.

Additionally, IH has invested over $7.5 million in ceiling lifts and beds to improve both patient care and staff safety. $27 million is being invested across the region to create 150 new mental health beds and $4 million for six Primary Health Care centres in Enderby, Kimberley, Sparwood, Kaslo, Slocan and Kamloops.