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July 8, 2003

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

Canada Health Infoway partners with hospitals in Southwest Ontario to create a regional diagnostic imaging system

London, Ontario - July 8, 2003 - Southwestern Ontario is one of two regions in Canada that is partnering with Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) to develop a shared services approach to diagnostic imaging. By sharing this technology among multiple facilities, access to these services is accelerated and the cost per hospital is reduced. The technology will enable health care providers at participating hospitals in the region to view patients' test images (such as X-rays and MRIs) and reports online, even if the test was conducted in another location.

This development is a major opportunity for Southwestern Ontario and the 22 hospital corporations in the region. The initial project will involve the eight hospitals in Thames Valley (the London, Middlesex, Elgin and Oxford county hospitals). These hospitals have signed a Letter of Intent with Infoway to develop the shared services model. The shared services model is expected to eventually include the other hospitals in Southwestern Ontario.

The eight area hospitals involved - Alexandra Hospital (Ingersoll), Four Counties General Hospital (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 - plan to have a Shared Diagnostic Imaging System within the next 12-18 months. It is expected that this shared system will produce significant savings by reducing the need for duplicate images and transfers between hospitals as well as drastically cutting film costs.

"We are absolutely delighted to announce this important step in making a shared system a reality in Southwestern Ontario," said Diane Beattie, Chief Information Officer and Integrated Vice President of St. Joseph's Health and London Health Sciences Centre. "First and foremost, we will be able to increase the quality of care being delivered to area residents. Secondly, working with Infoway means that the work we do here will ultimately benefit all Canadians."

Myrna Francis, Interim President and CEO at Infoway, notes that the online viewing of diagnostic images is a key component of electronic health records. "Our investment in this project will lead to the development of a governance/partnership model for shared diagnostic imaging systems that will be replicable in other regions in Canada. In this way, we maximize each dollar invested, speed up implementation and provide benefits to all jurisdictions."

Canada Health Infoway was created as a strategic response to needs expressed by Canada's First Ministers when they agreed in September 2000 "to work together to strengthen a Canada-wide health to improve quality, access and timeliness of health care for Canadians." The federal, provincial and territorial Deputy Ministers of Health are the Members of the Corporation. Infoway's mission is to foster and accelerate the development and adoption of compatible electronic health information systems. Infoway's approach is to invest strategically and work in partnership with stakeholders including the private sector. The Corporation acts as a catalyst, leveraging its financial resources through targeted investments and building on best practices.

Diagnostic Imaging Systems - Fact Sheet

Diagnostic Imaging Systems constitute an important component of Canada's emerging healthcare infostructure and are essential cornerstones in the development of interoperable electronic health record solutions.

Diagnostic Imaging Systems enable healthcare providers to view, manage, distribute and store electronically a patient's test images, graphics and reports, such as magnetic resonance imaging, X-ray, spiral computed tomography, positron emission tomography and multimedia medical files, regardless of where the test was conducted and from any location.

With an enhanced ability to access, manipulate and share digital images, these systems significantly improve the capacity of healthcare providers to quickly and accurately diagnose diseases and injuries, direct treatments and, with their patients, make the right healthcare decisions.

The origin of digital imaging is found in Picture Archiving and Communications Systems. These were focused on archiving images and data in a centralized database.

But with advancements in networking and computing technologies, and open industry standards and architectures, healthcare providers have increased flexibility to design and deploy solutions that are decentralized, integrated and interoperable. Such flexibility is essential as most clinical environments include equipment and devices from multiple vendors.

Infoway's shared services approach for Diagnostic Imaging systems can significantly accelerate the availability of these services in Canada by allowing small- and medium-sized facilities to share the costs of such systems.

Benefits of Infoway's investments in Shared Diagnostic Imaging Systems

Diagnostic Imaging Systems, integrated with electronic health records, can contribute to delivering numerous benefits:

  • Consumers:
    · Improved quality of care through faster turnaround of imaging results and better decision-support
    · Improved access to results and longitudinal record
    · Improved waiting list management
  • Healthcare Providers:
    · Increased specialist and radiologist productivity by eliminating film searches and duplication of procedures
    · Fewer unnecessary procedures improves access to services and alleviates pressure on radiologists workload
    · Improved patient management through tracking of order status
  • Facilities:
    · More affordable for small- and medium-sized facilities
    · Reduced costs through minimized film and procedure duplication, patient transfers, and storage and technology requirements
    Improved productivity and capacity management