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Diagnostic imaging

Rural Ontario hospitals link to high-powered DI network

SEAFORTH, Ont. – Huron Perth Health Care Alliance (HPHA) has connected to one of North America’s most sophisticated digital imaging networks – the Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network, which links nine other hospital organizations in Southwestern Ontario.

For its part, the rural HPHA, encompassing hospitals in Clinton, St. Marys, Seaforth and Stratford, is now able to share diagnostic images with other primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitals in the network. Access to this regional system leads to improved care for patients, the partners said.

“Ensuring our healthcare professionals have access to the latest technology is extremely important for the HPHA. It assists in the recruitment and retention of staff and physicians and strengthens our ability to provide needed healthcare services locally,” said Andrew Williams (pictured), CEO of HPHA.

Funding for this project is from HPHA and its community, in partnership with Canada Health Infoway. “This is one of the largest shared diagnostic imaging projects of its kind in Canada. It can serve as a model for other jurisdictions across the country,” said Stella Skerlec, DI and Registries Program Director for Canada Health Infoway.

Infoway presented Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance with $481,456 for its portion of the overall initiative.

Shared imaging is helping to improve healthcare delivery in rural communities by increasing access to radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and other specialists.

“Emergency physicians can now obtain timely radiology reports on CTs and other difficult to interpret films,” said Dr. Miriam Mann, HPHA’s Medical Program Director, Emergency Services. “Just this week, CT images on a late evening trauma patient were reviewed and dictated before 7:00 am the next morning.”

Digital images are filmless – much like a digital camera. Digital imaging systems enable healthcare providers to view, manage, distribute and electronically store a patient’s exam images from x-ray, CT, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, MRIs, and PET scans, as well as medical files from any location connected through the system – regardless of where the test was conducted. The PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications Systems) captures, stores and sends images using digital technology.

By joining the Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network, the HPHA hospitals can now access DI resources at:

• Alexandra Hospital (Ingersoll)
• London Health Sciences Centre
• Middlesex Hospital Alliance
• Four Counties Health Services (Newbury);
• Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital.
• St. Joseph’s Health Care London
• St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital
• Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital
• Woodstock General Hospital

The Southwestern Ontario Digital Imaging Network is serving as a model for other health information network projects across Canada. Planning is under way to continue expanding this network to other Southwestern Ontario hospitals.

About Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance
Four hospital corporations founded the Alliance in July 2003: Clinton Public Hospital, St. Marys Memorial Hospital, Seaforth Community Hospital, and Stratford General Hospital.

About Canada Health Infoway
Infoway is an independent not-for-profit organization that invests with public sector partners across Canada to implement and re-use compatible health information systems, which support a safer, more efficient healthcare system. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these private and secure systems provide healthcare professionals with rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about diagnosis and treatment. The result is a sustainable healthcare system offering improved quality, accessibility and productivity.