The largest provider of teleradiology services to NHS hospitals, Medica Group PLC, will use Sectra’s enterprise imaging solution to automate processes, improve productivity, and give its hundreds of radiology professionals sophisticated tools to examine and report on patient images.
Medica, which provides more than a million radiology reports each year to help NHS hospitals deliver timely diagnoses and effective care for patients, has announced it will deploy technology from medical imaging IT and cybersecurity company Sectra.
More than 450 radiologists and reporting radiographers who work with the teleradiology provider, will be supported by a new enterprise imaging solution, as they deliver important elective and emergency reports around the clock for more than 100 hospitals in the UK.
Known as a picture archiving and communication system, or PACS, the system will be used by reporters to examine a wide range of patient imaging – including x-rays and CT scans, and will help them deliver informed reports to hospitals when they need it.
Dr Robert Lavis, radiologist and clinical director at Medica, said: “Our current PACS has served us well for many years but with our contract ending in 2022 we took the opportunity to evaluate the marketplace. Sectra emerged as a clear preference based not only on the excellent core solution they offer now but also because of their appetite to partner with us to develop new ways to support our clients in the future. We rely heavily on our PACS and this new flexible platform will provide our reporters with excellent reporting tools as soon as it is deployed. Integrated, anatomy-based imaging linking will for example simplify workflows needed to report cancer-based imaging with automated cross reference to previous studies. In addition, Sectra will support Medica to deliver our FutureTech Programme plans over time. For example, it offers the opportunity to easily deploy additional artificial intelligence tools from the Sectra Amplifier Store as part of our Augmented Intelligence programme.”
Workflow allocation tools will automate a number of processes which are currently carried out manually. For example, when an exam is received from an NHS client the PACS can be configured to automatically populate a worklist for an individual reporter with the specific clinical expertise required for that exam. The PACS will also integrate directly with Medica’s existing rostering system to make efficient use of staff availability.
Dr Lavis commented: “As a workflow tool, we will exploit functionality to help us to efficiently direct the right study to the right radiologist at the right time, helping us to respond with appropriate clinical expertise, and to the specific needs of patients and clients at the time they need it. For example when we are dealing with a NightHawk acute stroke patient, the imaging can be routed to a consultant neuroradiologist for an urgent report within a few minutes of imaging being captured enabling rapid patient management decisions.
“For people within our organisation, we believe the system will allow reporters to become more efficient, streamlining their workflows, helping us to continue to improve turnaround times for patient scan reports, maximise throughput of patients and to improve working life for radiologists, other reporters and administrative colleagues.”
The PACS will support all of Medica’s business areas today. For elective reporting this includes CT scans, MRI, x-rays, and nuclear medicine, and for specialist reports it will be used to examine areas including lung nodules, virtual colonoscopies, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans. For emergency NightHawk reporting, Medica provides hospitals with a wide range of urgent imaging reports in an average of 23 minutes.
The development comes as NHS radiology departments across the country continue to face year on year increases in demand.
The new PACS also provides Medica with potential flexibility to expand its services into areas including digital pathology, with many hospital pathology departments facing similar demand challenges to those in radiology.
Jane Rendall, managing director for Sectra in the UK and Ireland, said: “Our partnership with Medica will help the organisation respond to rising pressures in a crucial area of diagnostics for the NHS. Technology can play an important supportive role in improving efficiency and in improving access to scarce expertise. We look forward to progressing this deployment and to helping the hundreds of professionals who will use the system.”