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Diagnostic imaging

PACS approved for Sechelt, Powell River, BC

VANCOUVER – Patients on the Sunshine Coast and in Powell River will soon receive faster diagnoses and quicker access to the medical care they need now that the Ministry of Health Services has approved funding to proceed with a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS).

PACS is an electronic information management system that provides radiologists, clinicians and other medical professionals with access to diagnostic image scans and reports via computer. It will allow medical professionals from across Vancouver Coastal Health and beyond to remotely view diagnostic images such as X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans from patients on the Sunshine Coast and in Powell River.

The new $3.2 million PACS system, which will be installed later this fiscal year, will also complement the CT scanner at St. Mary’s Hospital in Sechelt and the one that is planned for Powell River General Hospital. The contract for renovations that will allow installation of the Powell River CT scanner is currently at the tender stage on BC Bid. Patients in Bella Coola and Bella Bella, also part of Vancouver Coastal Health, will benefit as well.

PACS captures stores and distributes digital radiological images, such as CT, X-ray and ultrasound and removes the need to print diagnostic images on film for viewing. The system allows for the immediate transmission of diagnostic scans over a secure network to awaiting radiologists and physicians in multiple locations, providing opportunities for consultation, teaching, research and remote diagnosis.

PACS also provides an extended flexibility for radiologists and physicians to manipulate images. This is essential as current patient examinations with CT scanners generate hundreds or thousands of images rather than the 30 or 40 generated in the past on film.

“PACS greatly improves consultations between physicians and enhances diagnosis,” said Mary Ackenhusen, Chief Operating Officer for the Coastal health service delivery area of Vancouver Coastal Health. “PACS allows radiologists to review examinations dynamically rather than statically, meaning they can rotate, zoom in or out, and even align several images easily with a minimum of manipulation. These are all things that are difficult to do with static film images.”

Once a patient undergoes diagnostic imaging, the resulting images are sent to the PACS system, where the radiologist reads the images and provides a diagnostic report. The diagnostic report is then merged with the patient’s images and archived as part of the patient’s permanent record.

Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $2.8 billion in community, hospital and residential care services to over one million people in communities from Richmond through Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

Posted Aug. 13/09.