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Diagnostic imaging

PACS, cardio images integrated in Scarborough

TORONTO – An investment in new digital technology has made The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) the first in the world to run two key diagnostic imaging systems (Agfa HealthCare’s IMPAX 6.3.1 and Cardiovascular 7.7) on an integrated platform – a major benefit for cardiac patients who can now get faster, more accurate diagnoses and treatment.

This is proving particularly valuable for diagnosing heart failure in patients of the hospital’s Heart Function Clinic.

The Agfa HealthCare system integrates a Radiology and a Cardiology Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) into a single unified platform. Traditionally, these two systems are run as separate entities, each with its own operating system.

The advanced system allows for the digital sharing and analysis of cardiology and radiology images on a secure network, enabling physicians to consult with colleagues in real time. It also means patients who undergo diagnostic tests such as echocardiograms at one TSH site can have the results quickly reported to a physician at the other campus.

“Faster reporting is probably the key benefit for both patients and physicians,” said Dr. Jim Cherry, a cardiologist at TSH. “Any time we can speed up that process, we are able to diagnose and treat sooner.”

And that, said Martin Goldstein, the hospital’s Patient Care Manager, Diagnostic Services, is already resulting in better patient-centred care.

“From the time we have an image to the time a report is available … is now a lot faster. It can mean the difference between days and hours,” said Goldstein.

“With the progressive use of new technology, The Scarborough Hospital is speeding patient wait times – from the initial tests to the delivery of results,” said Dave Wilson, vice president, Agfa HealthCare in Canada. “It’s exciting to see Canadian healthcare facilities like The Scarborough Hospital leveraging some of the world’s most innovative technologies and realizing the benefits of digital imaging.”

Agfa HealthCare’s system can manage imaging data from a variety of different modalities including angiography, echocardiography, nuclear medicine and cardiac CT and MR systems.

“The IMPAX system puts us on a path where our next software upgrade could mean the capability to use almost any diagnostic imaging modality on this single platform,” said Goldstein.

Being the first hospital in the world to adopt the combined IMPAX system is “revolutionary,” said Dr. Cherry.

“We probably skipped a few generations of technology to upgrade to this point,” he said, adding that in the past, echocardiogram images were stored on VHS tape. “Now, we have quality digital images that can be shared, and we have new measurement tools not previously available to us.”

Posted March 11, 2010