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Diagnostic imaging

PACS solution at rural hospital includes teleradiology for CT

SIMCOE, Ont. – Norfolk General Hospital recently underwent an expansion that included a whole new facility for the DI department. The hospital is located in Simcoe, Ont., a farming community in southern Ontario about two hours from Toronto.

Part of that re-development involved the implementation of a GE Centricity PACS SE, and NGH has the distinction of being the first Centricity PACS SE site in Canada.

Centricity PACS SE is best described as a “PACS-in-a-box”, and brings the power and functionality of Centricity PACS EE for large healthcare institutions scaled to meet the needs of single site community hospitals and imaging centres.

The hardware for Centricity PACS SE is literally shipped pre-assembled, pre-racked, with all software pre-installed in a large box to the customer site and can be up and running within 4-5 hours.

Not only is the Centricity PACS SE hardware package designed for rapid deployment, but the implementation services are also designed to significantly shorten the PACS roll out timelines.

The NGH PACS project used a clinical transformation specialist role for the first time that combined clinical applications, change management consulting, and modality integration knowledge into one, and this was successfully fulfilled by Micheline Menard, who is usually a PACS clinical applications specialist.

“One of the most appreciated qualities that the GE team offered was their understanding of the importance of workflow issues to the success of the project,” says Deb Moore, NGH’s PACS system administrator. “The support received through face-to-face communications and Word documents provided excellent guidance as we evaluated our workflow in the present, interim and future states. Our success at go-live can be attributed certainly to the software training and preparation, but the most impressive contribution was from our preparedness in workflow. You cannot anticipate all challenges at go-live, however, we had significantly reduced those challenges by our diligent workflow review.”

The NGH Centricity PACS SE went live on October 31, 2005 with CR (for radiography images) and C-arm. By November 2005, more that 75 percent of all clinical areas were accessing digital images on-line, and NGH expected to be fully filmless by January 1, 2006, just 60 days after PACS was implemented.

By the end of January, a new 64-slice CT, a new R&F room, and three new ultrasound scanners are to be added to the PACS, and help transform NGH’s diagnostic imaging department with Centricity PACS SE as a major part of the new facility.

According to Steve Egan, Director of Diagnostic Imaging, “The GE process for getting NGH up and running with their GE PACS system was painless. The entire GE team were very understanding and supportive. The training for our staff was on time. Our radiologist, Dr.Chow, was reading images on PACS almost immediately.”

The NGH Centricity PACS SE also includes an element of telemedicine. As explained by Dave Little, Director of Information Technology, “NGH does not have a Radiologist on site to read CT exams. The GE team has been great in their execution and support of our Remote Radiologist Project. This project will have radiologists from a clinic in North York reading NGH CT images full time. This provides a much faster turn around time for our patients than a solution where the Radiologist visits on a weekly basis. The CT exam backlog is reduced and the CT is utilized more effectively. This may become a model for rural hospitals in the future.”

Dave Little added that, “Norfolk General had a motto for the PACS project, which was ‘No Surprises’. This motto was referring to financial, operational and functional surprises that this type of project can create. Everyone on the GE team, from sales through to service, understood our motto and there were no surpises, except for how smooth and uncomplicated the implementation of the PACS system was.”