April 21, 2005

Michell Floyd
Communication Consultant, LHSC

London hospitals are connected!

Shared digital imaging revolutionizing health care delivery

London, ON - Through a shared digital imaging network London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph's Health Care, London (SJHC) are now sharing the 518,000 medical image procedures they generate annually. With just the click of a mouse, the images are instantly available to medical professionals at both sites. A first for Ontario, this initiative is also one of the biggest of its kind in Canada.

LHSC has just completed their digital imaging implementation - the second step in the pilot phase of the Southwest Ontario Digital Imaging Network project. "With LHSC alone generating 340,000 imaging procedures annually, the magnitude of the work the team has accomplished in just 11 months to convert from film-based to digital imaging is extraordinary and commendable," says Tony Dagnone, President and CEO of LHSC.

"Now that LHSC and SJHC are connected, the 24/7 electronic availability of images between these facilities is streamlining the delivery of patient care. Our goal is to share patient information among care providers and across facilities, through a highly secure information network, to provide a seamless continuum of care," says Diane Beattie, Chief Information Officer and Integrated Vice-President of SJHC and LHSC.

Digital imaging is a key building block for the Electronic Health Record. Canada Health Infoway, a federal-provincial- territorial initiative responsible for accelerating the development of Electronic Health Records across Canada, is jointly funding the project along with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Infoway reimburses projects as predetermined milestones are completed. Today Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, presented the project with $4,946,000.

In congratulating the team, Richard Alvarez, Infoway's President and CEO, says: "We are seeing - in this initiative and across the country - collaboration with health care facilities, provincial governments, technology vendors and health care providers who are learning to use new solutions for the benefit of their patients." He added that Infoway now has diagnostic imaging projects planned or underway in every province across the country.

"Shared digital imaging will offer radiologists and clinicians timely access to virtual imaging across the region, that will greatly enhance patient care," says Dr. Rethy Chhem, Chief of Radiology at LHSC.

This phase of the shared imaging project, one of two underway in Canada, encompasses the eight Thames Valley Hospital Planning Partnership hospitals: Alexandra Hospital in Ingersoll; Four Counties Health Services in Newbury; London Health Sciences Centre; St. Joseph's Health Care, London; St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital; Strathroy-Middlesex General Hospital; Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital, and Woodstock General Hospital. When digital imaging is completed at these hospitals in December 2005, they will all be able to share images over the secure network, and consult on cases while simultaneously viewing images online.

Plans are now underway to expand the project to other hospitals in Southwestern Ontario making this one of the largest shared services digital imaging projects in the world. "This provincial and national pilot is generating excitement both nationally and internationally in the medical community," says Diane Beattie.

Significant support from private partners Cerner Corporation, GE Healthcare, Hewlett-Packard Canada, and LARG*net have helped to ensure the success of this project.

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 test images, MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans, and medical files from any location connected through the system - regardless of where the test was conducted. The PACS (picture archiving and communication system) captures, stores and sends images using digital technology.

For more information: www.c3project.ca/di