Digital X-ray a first for Irish hospitals

17 Oct 2008

A digital X-ray imaging system has been deployed at Tullamore and Mulllingar hospitals, and is achieving efficiencies by allowing doctors and consultants to work remotely instead of waiting on film.

Carestream Health was formed when Onex Corporation of Toronto acquired Eastman Kodak’s health group.

The company’s pedigree in X-ray goes back to the origins of the technology, when George Eastman’s company introduced photographic paper in 1896 specifically for X-ray purposes.

The new Carestream Health technology introduced at Tullamore and Mullingar general hospitals is web-based so that consultants, GPs and other intermediaries can examine X-ray images, explained the company’s managing director for Ireland, Charlie McCaffrey.

The single, enterprise-wide, integrated (RIS/PACS) system met stringent clinical and business requirements set by the Health Services Executive Midlands Area, and required a number of customised developments to ensure correct query routing for each patient record and protection against duplication of patient reference numbers by disparate systems.

It addresses all operational requirements from voice recognition, diagnostic reporting, patient referrals, scheduling, e-ordering, image viewing and capture and archival, and was implemented to replace legacy systems at the hospitals.

In addition, a Kodak Carestream information management system will manage the central regional repository for long-term image storage and retrieval.

McCaffrey explained: “This technology means that reports can be accessed by multiple intermediaries in a secure fashion. Orthopaedics in one hospital can provide advice to doctors in another. The information can be emailed or accessed on-site at hospitals or off-site over a virtual private network (VPN).

“It will mean superior clinical governance as information will be securely stored and opinions easily sought.”

McCaffrey went on to say that the technology is ideal for facilitating multi-discipline team meetings. “Groups of physicians can manage a patient, not just on the hospital site, but can conference remotely and look at the same images and reports. It means a much more secure exchange of information, but also more focused care for the patient.

“The beauty of the system is that the doctors are not tied to any X-ray type. The doctors on various sites aren’t tied to any one technology type, and hospitals can easily equip and utilise existing facilities,” McCaffrey said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years