York Central PACS will join
region-wide DI network
RICHMOND HILL, Ont. – York Central Hospital, one of Ontario’s
fastest-growing community hospitals, has begun implementation of a $5
million PACS and voice recognition dictation system that will speed up
access to test images and reports for physicians, enabling them to make
faster and higher-quality diagnoses.
The system will also be connected to a region-wide PACS that’s currently
in the works and is expected to gain funding from the Canada Health
Infoway early next year. Called the Toronto East Network PACS, the
regional project will use a single repository to link the radiological
images of 16 hospitals.
While York Central expects to benefit from that system, which will be
developed over the next three to five years, it is obtaining immediate
advantages from the hospital PACS that has just been implemented.
“We did 165,000 exams last year, which results in a very large number of
images,” commented Dr. John McKee, lead radiologist at York Central. He
noted that physicians now have access to those studies in seconds,
instead of the hours or days it previously took to print film and have
previous exams retrieved and delivered to the physicians and radiologists.
“We are saying good-bye to the inconvenience and higher cost of
traditional diagnostic films in favour of the greater speed, clarity and
cost efficiency of digital images,” he added.
Dr. McKee said the system is expected to pay for itself in five years
through the reduction of film, processing, storage and retrieval costs.
At the same time, however, the hospital expects improvements in patient
care –- by receiving images faster, and using computerized tools for
making quicker diagnoses, doctors are able to start treatments sooner.
That’s expected to translate into better outcomes for patients.
The PACS is being supplied by GE Healthcare, of Mississauga, Ont. It
uses web technology to make images available to doctors across the
hospital, as well as to affiliated physicians working outside the
facility from their offices and homes. They can tap into the PACS
through the hospital’s secure web portal.
And when patients need to provide images to specialists outside the
hospital who aren’t associated with York Central, they can now have the
pictures burned onto a CD. It’s faster than waiting for film, easier to
carry, and patients don’t have to worry about returning images to the
York Central is a 430-bed hospital that has seen its case load grow by
nearly 50 percent annually for the past four years. The hospital is
under great pressure to keep costs in line as it strives to battle
sickness and improve the quality of care. Electronic solutions are a key
part of the strategy.
“We see the PACS as one of the most critical components of the
Electronic Health Record that we’re building at the hospital,” said
Diane Salois-Swallow, Chief Information and Privacy Officer for York
Central in Richmond Hill and Chief Information Officer for Southlake
Regional Health Centre, in Newmarket, Ont.
“Quicker access to diagnostic images and faster diagnoses will not only
lead to better clinical results for patients,” said Salois-Swallow.
“They may also lead to reductions in length of stay and thereby further
reduce hospital costs, she predicted, as many patients will be able to
start treatments earlier, instead of waiting for the results of tests.”
Salois-Swallow noted that the Toronto East Network (TEN) PACS, linking
the DI images of 16 hospitals, is also a key step in the development of
shareable electronic charts. “It will bring us closer to the
pan-Canadian electronic health record,” she said.
A key part of the project is the creation of region-wide Enterprise
Master Patient Index. Salois-Swallow said an announcement about the
launch of the EMPI for Southlake Regional Health Centre and then York
Central Hospital is forthcoming.
Bruce Harber, President and CEO of York Central, also emphasized the
importance of electronic solutions to the hospital, and pointed out that
the PACS will evolve over time to ensure that the latest technologies
are being used, offering physicians and other healthcare providers the
best tools possible.
“It’s a long-term agreement [with GE Healthcare] that makes sure the
system is upgraded and remains state-of-the art,” said Harber.
Harber saluted the staff members who made the implementation a success,
complimenting them for their people skills and the use of excellent
project management techniques.
Laurie Rogers, general manager of GE Healthcare Information
Technologies, concurred with Harber’s assessment, calling it one of the
smoothest PACS implementations he has seen.
“We’ve installed over 70 systems like this across the country,” said
Rogers. “We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But this was one of
the best –- it’s at the top of the list.”
Noting that York Central assessed PACS technologies for several years,
Rogers said GE Healthcare listened to Dr. McKee and his peers, and
during that time altered their own PACS offering to improve it. “We took
out things they didn’t like, and added things they wanted. They’re now
in the system,” said Rogers.