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Diagnostic imaging

Northern Health speeds up radiology reporting

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – A solution developed collaboratively by Northern Health and Agfa HealthCare means results from X-rays, ultrasounds, and other scans could be available to family doctors and their patients up to three times faster.
“This is an exciting opportunity to utilize technology as a way to improve patient care,” said Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond. “By being able to directly attach this information to a patient’s electronic health record it means a more efficient and expedited process and results that are shared immediately with physicians.”
“When people are getting health tests done, it is vital to know the results as quickly as possible,” said Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell. “By identifying health risks sooner, patients and their doctors will be able to react much quicker in ensuring appropriate treatments.”
“Currently, results take five to six days; with this new system, it could be one to two days,” said Dr. Bill Clifford, Northern Health’s Director of Clinical Informatics. “It’s a really slick system that makes it all seamless, reduces the potential for errors, and streamlines workflow.”
The new system takes the image a radiologist is interpreting and automatically links it to the patient’s electronic record. “All the radiologist has to do is click the ‘record’ button on his dictation device. It’s a one-click solution,” said Dr. Clifford. The system does the rest – it knows that the dictation applies to that image, and links them together. The dictation is then sent to the medical transcriptionist already tagged with the correct patient and radiologist.
“This has completely revolutionized the way radiologists work,” said Mary Lund, Health Link North Project Manager.
Previously, radiologists had to look up and record a patient ID number before dictating their findings. Likewise, medical transcriptionists had to manually search for and input the correct radiologist before typing in the dictation.
“I might report on 200 films a day, and with this new system our work efficiency has increased dramatically. It allows us to get reports out the same day, and the system is now fully integrated as well in terms of patient files and charts,” said Dr. Larry Breckon. “For us it’s been a tremendous boon – it’s like night and day.”

As well as improving reliability and accuracy, results are instantly available to all physicians with Northern Health. The system is currently running in Prince George, and will be expanded across the Northern Health region. Planning for the expansion rollout will start in the fall.

Posted July 30/09.