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$6.5 million announced for pediatric PACS in Ontario

TORONTO – The Ontario government is investing $6.5 million to implement Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) in pediatric care centres across the province.

The PACS funding for children’s care was part of an October announcement of more than $74 million for state-of-the-art cancer radiation and diagnostic equipment, by Ontario Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman (pictured at left).

“People suffering serious health problems will have better access to the services they need as a result of the investment we’re making,” Smitherman said. “We are talking about shorter wait times, and we’re talking about better care.”

PACS are used in healthcare organizations for digital image management, storage and distribution. They can be used to manage CT, MRI and computerized radiography images, and may even include ultrasound scan images as well.

PACS will improve access to pediatric care by:

• Making diagnosis and treatment more timely since the film can be read by any available specialist (who does not have to be in the same location as the patient);

• Making diagnostic scan results immediately available to physicians, whether they are in an operating room, emergency department, office or at home;

• Providing care closer to home, since the patient does not need to travel to consult with a specialist.

Some of the basic components of a PACS include:

• Image digitizers to convert film-based images to digital format to bring archived images into the system;

• High quality diagnostic workstations for radiologists and other workstations for general users that can support remote access;

• Software and hardware infrastructure for acquiring, managing and distributing diagnostic images and integration with other health information systems.

Listed below is the funding breakdown of the $6.5 million the government is providing:

• Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa) – $2,740,833;

• McMaster Children’s Hospital (Hamilton) – $2,264,167;

• Sudbury Regional Hospital – $780,000;

• Kingston General Hospital – $715,000;

TOTAL: $6,500,000

The $74.8 million announced in October by Health Minister Smitherman will be used to improve access to key procedures by replacing old equipment with more efficient new machines, and by introducing better medical technology. The funding includes:

• $34.8 million to replace and upgrade radiation therapy equipment to offer cancer patients timely access to leading-edge cancer therapies;

• $33.5 million to replace diagnostic and medical equipment (such as X-ray and ultrasound units, dialysis machines, ventilators, intravenous pumps, patient beds and exam tables) in hospitals undergoing capital redevelopment;

• $6.5 million to implement a new digital imaging system (PACS) to improve access to specialized care for children.