09 April 2010
Patient x-rays are now being stored digitally as the first step in a project to digitalise all medical records in Jersey.
The first digital x-rays were made in the Radiology Department in February, as part of a project called the Radiology Information System and Picture Archiving Communication System or RIS/PACS. Within the few weeks since the new system was launched, the Health and Social Services Department has savings of £200,000.
PACS has become a popular system in Europe and the USA over the last decade, and the wider global move to digital images means that x-ray film can be hard to come by. This has been doubly necessary as the manufacturers are no longer supporting the traditional equipment used in producing and developing x-ray film with chemicals.
Consultant Radiologist Dr Chris Hare said: "This new development allows rapid access to medical images and reports through a completely secure system.
"Patients being seen in hospital clinics no longer have to wait for films to processed and printed. Digital storage means there is no possibility of losing an image and, if needed, many doctors will be able to view the same image at the same time. Patients who need to travel to the UK for treatment are now able to have all their films provided electronically, not just CT and MRI scans as was the case before.
"The move not only offers benefits for patients, it also means that the Radiology Department no longer has to rely on difficult to source film stocks, complex chemical processors and hard to replace traditional equipment, as well as building expensive physical archives to store traditional x-ray film and paper reports," said Dr Hare.
Work on the new computerised care records system for Jersey’s General Hospital, known as the Integrated Care Record Programme (ICR) continues, for which funding was given in 2006. The next step is to replace the hospital’s patient administration system. This holds all the demographic details for the patients and is the hub for all the other new systems which will be part of the Electronic Patient Records (EPR). These include operating theatre management, electronic prescribing and electronic patient notes.
In the long term, the hospital will move towards having only electronic patient records over the next few years.
The move towards a completely digital system has been welcomed by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Anne Pryke. She said: "I am delighted with the introduction of this new service as it will provide improved levels of care for all patients. The department has worked hard to maintain a normal level of service while introducing this new system as quickly as possible. The result is that the General Hospital now has a modern system that compares with counterparts in other hospitals around the world."