NWT, Yukon invest in filmless
YELLOWKNIFE and WHITEHORSE – The
Northwest Territories and Yukon have announced filmless radiology
Over the course of the next three to four months, Stanton Territorial
Hospital, Inuvik Regional Hospital, H. H. Williams Hospital and the Fort
Smith Health Centre in the NWT will go filmless.
Physicians and technologists will no longer have to create or view
diagnostic images using film. Instead, they will be using the Diagnostic
Imaging Picture Archiving and Communications System (DI/PACS) to
capture, store, distribute and review all patient diagnostic images.
There are numerous benefits of moving to DI/PACS technology:
• no time spent waiting for the delivery of films. Instead, images are
routed to radiologists in a matter of seconds. That means quicker report
turn-around times, resulting in faster diagnosis and decisions relating
• flexible viewing for physicians and hospital staff (clinicians can
consult on images at the same time from different locations);
• no longer will we have the costs associated with “hard copy” film,
developing and storage; and
• no lost or misplaced images resulting in unnecessary duplication of
The implementation of DI/PACS throughout the four hospitals is planned
to be completed by the end of May 2009.
“By moving from film to filmless, we are now able to process images much
faster than before,” said the Honourable Sandy Lee, Minister of Health
and Social Services. “This is an important step towards improving
service delivery to our residents.”
The DI/PACS implementation will represent an investment of $5.9 million:
$4.3 million from Canada Health Infoway and $1.6 million from the
Government of the Northwest Territories.
“The availability of digitized diagnostic images means radiologists are
now able to support care delivery and improve access remotely for
patients who live in underserviced areas,” said Richard Alvarez,
President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “As a result, diagnoses are
made much more quickly, speeding access to treatment closer to home.”
Currently, healthcare professionals from over 18 community facilities in
the Northwest Territories transport patient film-based images by
traditional mail or by air to Stanton Territorial Hospital in
Yellowknife, the only facility in the territory with a radiologist. Once
in place, Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX solution will connect the four main
hospitals in the region to provide caregivers with more efficient and
convenient access to patient information and images.
Moreover, the government of NWT plans to deploy computed radiography
systems in the 18 community health centers currently providing
diagnostic imaging (DI) services across the Territories. These systems
will eventually connect to Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX solution connecting
the vast geography of the Territories to the Territorial PACS.
The solution being used is Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX system, a
web-deployable image and information management solution with advanced
image processing designed to simplify customer reporting activities,
increase throughput and improve report turnaround time, while connecting
caregivers to the tools and knowledge they need to deliver quality
“Extended wait times are still plaguing our healthcare system, and
moving to a digital environment is the first step to expediting overall
patient turnaround times,” said Dave Wilson, General Manager of Agfa
HealthCare, Canada. “Advanced imaging technologies, such as IMPAX, will
lay the groundwork for further IT deployments in the Northwest
Territories and will enhance the delivery of patient care - ultimately
getting us closer to making eHealth in Canada a reality.”
The IMPAX PACS project is set to be complete at the end of April, 2009,
with the computed radiography projected for completion in June 2010.
Meanwhile, in Yukon, new digital tele-radiology equipment will replace
existing film x-ray machines in community health centres, and give
access to x-ray technology to Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay, who
currently don’t have x-ray equipment in place.
Converting to digital technology will enable digital x-rays to be
electronically sent for diagnosis, allowing diagnosis to occur much
faster than the current situation, where film x-rays need to be
physically mailed to a radiologist outside of the territory.
“Waiting for diagnosis can be a stressful time for patients and their
families,” Hart said. “Providing more timely access to diagnosis will
help reduce this wait-time, and ensure that treatment, if needed, occurs
in a timely manner.” Replacing the existing film machines will also
improve workplace safety for health centre employees, as they will no
longer have to handle hazardous materials used in manual film
Canada Health Infoway is providing $2.8 million towards the project,
with the remaining $700,000 being funded by Yukon Health and Social
Services, pending legislative approval.
“Advancements in digital diagnostic imaging are closing the geographical
barriers in healthcare, enabling authorized healthcare professions to
provide essential services regardless of where the test was conducted or
where the healthcare provider is located,” said Richard Alvarez,
President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “The result is faster
diagnosis, allowing treatment to start sooner.”
Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization
funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every
province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of
electronic health record projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient
confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and
patients with the information they need to better support safe care
decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information
quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable healthcare system
for all Canadians.