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Diagnostic imaging

Neuro imaging repository wins ITAC award

TORONTO – A system allowing Ontario hospitals to quickly and easily share neurosurgical scan images was given an IT Hero Award by the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). The ninth annual awards were presented at the ITAC Chairs’ dinner in June.

GE Healthcare IT won the Corporate IT Hero Award for its deployment of an Emergency Neuro Image Transfer System, which allows neurosurgeons and CT technologists to communicate and consult remotely between hospitals throughout Ontario, reducing the need for unnecessary hospital transfers and providing patients with added peace of mind.

Winners were determined by a panel of judges who assessed the nominees and their projects for innovation and creativity, as well as initiative and leadership, positive and measurable impact on Canadians, and effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

“I am always amazed by the excellent quality of the nominations. We are now into our ninth year of the IT Hero Awards, and the great stories just keep on coming,” said Bernard Courtois, ITAC President. “These awards continually demonstrate Canada’s great pedigree in developing technology unselfishly designed for the benefit of others. Hats off to the winners, they fully deserve the recognition and are a credit to us all.”

Corporate IT Hero Award – winner profile
Without a provincial image exchange system to support tele-consult, diagnosis and emergency medical transfer decisions, it is estimated that 35-50 percent of transfers are unnecessary. The impact of this lack of technology can be measured in undue stress to many patients as well as millions of dollars in time and transfer costs. Furthermore, this shortcoming particularly affects rural areas that tend not to have timely access to neurosurgical specialists.

Working together with eHealth Ontario and London Health Sciences Center (LHSC), GE Healthcare IT embraced the challenge of building the Emergency Neuro Image Transfer System (ENITS), which allows the transfer and storage of neuro-treatment head-scan images from facilities throughout Ontario to a central site from which experts can access the images, determine treatment options and provide consultation at once for patients across the province.

ENITS is built using GE’s high-availability Centricity Enterprise Archive (EA), which allows for web-based distribution of images to collaborating hospitals and enables neurosurgeons to access stored images over the internet from any remote location.

By leveraging data centre infrastructure already established in the LHSC in South-Western Ontario, GE is set to complete the 12-month delivery of an Ontario-wide system, connecting 175 CT scanners in 130 hospitals across the province. The technology will provide nearly 70 neurosurgeons and approximately 200 CT technicians with the ability to communicate and consult remotely throughout Ontario.

The first phase was rolled out in December 2008 and connected nine sites across Ontario. The remaining sites are on schedule to be connected. This initial rollout was an immediate success, with 40 percent of all neurosurgical referrals being processed through ENITS to date.

Of those referrals, approximately half would have normally resulted in unnecessary transfers, resulting in a savings of approximately $9 million and providing peace of mind for patients and family members.

“We are delighted to have been recognized by ITAC with an IT Hero Award, and would like to thank eHealth Ontario and the leadership at LHSC for their close cooperation and collaboration on this project,” said Mike Clarke, general manager, GE Healthcare IT Canada. “With ENITS, we have developed a system we are very proud of as it improves the quality, access and cost of neurosurgical care throughout Ontario and saves patients and their families the hardships and the stress of unnecessary hospital transfers.”

Posted July 16/09.