Management > CIO

North West trusts step up in connecting diagnostics across hospitals

David Bicknell Published 02 August 2017

Morecambe Bay and Lancashire hospitals move away from NPfIT contracts and use Swedish technology to integrate trusts’ ‘ologies’ with each other and with regional partners


Two North-West NHS trusts have claimed to be breaking down barriers between diagnostic departments and frontline clinical staff, in a move that healthcare professionals say is changing how they can view and diagnose patients while improving collaboration between hospitals across the region. 

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has become the first amongst neighbouring trusts in Cumbria and Lancashire to move away from its local service provider contract under the former NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT), and is now making crucial patient imaging and reports instantly available to staff both across its own hospitals and in virtually held regional multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTs).

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust expects to achieve similar enterprise wide and regional gains for Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, when it goes live with technology from Swedish healthcare company Sectra later this year. 

The Morecambe Bay trust’s move is said to be having a major impact on patient care, following the go-live of Sectra’s picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and vendor neutral archive (VNA).

Frontline clinicians no longer need to manually request x-rays, CT scans or MRIs and can view a full range of crucial imaging and reports from anywhere in the hospital, directly through the Morecambe Bay trust’s Lorenzo Electronic Patient Record system. They can also choose to interrogate and manipulate imaging themselves by logging directly into the new enterprise wide PACS, which has historically been used only by staff in the radiology department.

Now, by using the PACS in preoperative planning, surgeons can now virtually reconstruct a patient’s joint in 3D before going into the operating theatre. The now much more detailed view of patient imaging is said to be changing the way a full range of healthcare professionals can understand their specific patient’s condition. 

“This has changed the way we look at patients and is better connecting radiology to clinical delivery,” said Dr Sameer Shamshuddin, consultant musculo-skeletal radiologist and PACS lead at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

“Examining a patient’s imaging is now like reading a book. Previously we could only look at reconstructions created by radiographers. We couldn’t change things ourselves whilst reporting. Now we can carry out very detailed interrogation of patient imaging, simultaneously viewing and manipulating multiple layers from skin to bone in very high end 3D.

“On a single monitor we can look at as many as 40 different images, and simply flip from one page to another, rather than moving between multiple monitors and systems. This makes life very easy when comparing historical imaging to understand whether a patient has improved, and is particularly powerful in complex cases.”

Multi-disciplinary team meetings held virtually with several neighbouring trusts are also being enhanced, with authorised professionals in other hospitals able to log directly into the PACS at Morecambe Bay to view patient imaging and reports, simply by clicking a link, instead of spending lengthy amounts of time manually transferring images. 

“This is a giant leap forward for workflow,” said Dr Shamshuddin. “Within the hospital, chat functionality is allowing me to seek instant peer review from my colleagues without spending time searching through corridors. And across the region, our MDTs are now better connected.

“Previously, when head and neck cancer MDTs were held in Preston, for example, we had to transfer the images over the image exchange portal for radiologists to load the image into their PACS, process it and prepare for the meeting. Now our colleagues in neighbouring trusts can securely log into our PACS by simply clicking a link. The meeting is video-conferenced and everyone is working from the same imaging, allowing us to share scarce expertise seamlessly.”

Emma Jackson, PACS and radiology IT manager at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said, “We are breaking down departmental silos without the need to get rid of established departments and disciplines. Across the hospital this is providing clinicians with much better access than they have ever had before. If they log into the PACS they already have as good a view as the radiologists do, and this will advance further as more and more ‘ologies’ use our new VNA to store patient imaging. This means the trust will have much better resilience and we are moving the confines of departments to an enterprise wide imaging system.”

Andy Wicks, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s chief information officer added, “The Sectra deployment is an important component of our Electronic Patient Record strategy. When our clinicians view PACS images at the bed side, they can do that in context of the wider patient record which now includes electronic results, doctors and nurses notes, assessments, care plans and a wealth of valuable information on which to base crucial clinical decisions.” 

Meanwhile, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has also now signed a Sectra contract, is looking to achieve similar gains for Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, when the trust goes live with the Swedish technology later this year.  

Dr Chooi Oh, clinical director for radiology and consultant radiologist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said, “This is a big jump, not a minor transition. We will be moving to a state of the art PACS driven workflow, with a system that will also allow us to audit our colleagues’ findings quickly and easily.

“Urgent findings about a patient’s condition can also be more easily flagged up to clinicians at the click of a button or voice command. This will facilitate and streamline the governance of such notifications more efficiently.”

Jane Rendall, managing director UK & Ireland for Sectra, said, “Work in Morecambe Bay and Lancashire represents a real hunger in the NHS to integrate diagnostics with the rest of medicine and to make crucial imaging available in a timely manner to the people tasked with saving lives. Information can no longer be confined in radiology, pathology or any of the ‘ologies’. We need to make it accessible enterprise wide, and we need to ensure that vital intelligence from diagnostics can follow patients across organisational boundaries, so that healthcare professionals can make the best diagnoses and decisions for safer and better patient care.”

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.