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Diagnostic imaging

Nova Scotia aims at province-wide PACS network

The Nova Scotia Department of Health is investing more than $800,000 in PACS technology and DI equipment at the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, as part of the provincial Picture Archive and Communications System (PACS) expansion project.

The project will replace nearly all film-based imaging in the province with faster, safer and more streamlined processes.

PACS gives physicians instant access to results of diagnostic imaging tests including CT scans and ultrasounds. Most of the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority will be able to produce digital images using computerized radiology equipment. All components of PACS in the health authority were expected to be up and running in July.

“Expanding PACS across the province is one more way that we are modernizing our health system to provide safer, faster health care to Nova Scotians,” said acting Health Minister Jamie Muir. “Districts with the PACS in place have seen improvements in the time it takes to get diagnostic results to physicians, allowing them to make quicker treatment decisions.”

The PACS expansion began with Annapolis Valley Health in early 2005, followed recently by South Shore Health and now Guysborourgh Antigonish Straight Health Authority. The expansion is expected to be completed by summer 2006, which will make Nova Scotia home to the largest province-wide PACS installation of in Canada.

“PACS, along with the new computerized radiology equipment, brings increased efficiency to our work, which has a significant impact on the care patients receive,” said Dr. Mike Silver, a radiologist at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish.

“For example, in the case of a hip injury, the X-ray will be instantly available to the orthopedic surgeon, regardless of whether the surgeon is in New Glasgow, Sydney or Halifax. This allows them to make quicker decisions about whether or not a patient requires surgery.”

“This is great news for the patients in our district,” said Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority CEO Kevin MacDonald. “Our diagnostic staff, physicians, in collaboration with the Department of Health, have worked very hard to make this happen.”

The PACS expansion project is a partnership between the health districts in Nova Scotia, the Department of Health and Canada Health Infoway, an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides strategic investments to accelerate the implementation of the electronic health record across Canada. The project began in 2004 at a total cost of $25 million. Canada Health Infoway funds 75 percent of specific elements of the projects that meet its funding criteria.