The NORrad PACS Project


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NORrad Phase 1

Overview:

NORrad Phase 1 is a $10 million project to reshape the delivery of diagnostic imaging services in the most northerly communities of Eastern Ontario. This project uses digital radiology technology and high-speed networks to move diagnostic images and interpretations between community and regional hospitals.  Employing proven information and communications technology as an enabling factor, the NORrad vision supports physicians and other health care professionals in providing new and improved health care services for residents of the area.

The project is also unique in its complexity - bringing together representatives of ten independent health care organizations in and around the Cochrane District and James Bay health districts.  This collaboration, known as the Northeastern Health Services Alliance, came together for the first time under a common set of goals and objectives for improving health care services and delivery for the 100,000 people living across 150,000 square miles.

The project takes advantage of the discovery of Computed Radiography (CR), and  PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System) the biggest innovations in the history of Diagnostic Imaging Technology. the digital recording of X-ray data not only offers a high degree of resolution (crucial for the best possible diagnostic assessment), it also opens the door to fast, accurate and secure transmission of images over data networks.

Under the NORrad  PACS project, images from any modality (CR, CT, US, MRI, NM, etc) make use of local area networks (LANs) to carry images and reports between referring physicians, radiologists and emergency staff within each hospital. A high-speed wide area network (WAN) connects the nine independent hospitals in a strategic alliance, which allows for image analysis and consultation among medical professionals across the region. The images and reports can also be transmitted to authorized users over the Internet.

In addition to the community hospitals, the NORrad network has two corporate partners. The digital imaging equipment is being supplied by AGFA Medical Imaging Inc., while the network infrastructure is being provided by Northern Telephone Ltd.

Results Since Implementation:

  • An extended level of local patient care

  • Positive impacts on patient outcomes

  • Reductions of expensive ambulance evacuations

  • Improved service for physicians to serve patients better

  • Improved medical service delivery and hospital efficiency

  • Improved patient record confidentiality

  • Easier access to diagnostic and information for remote site physicians

  • Multiple viewers at multiple locations at one time

  • Enhanced support to community hospitals

  • Increased access to additional diagnostic information

  • On-line access anywhere

  • Efficient utilization of departmental resources

  • Leveraging limited health care resources

  • Creating a Northern Ontario Telemedicine Centre of Excellence

  • State-of-the-Art health care to attract and retain physicians

  • Future expandability and system inter-operability

Click here for some specific examples of how the NORrad PACS network has improved health care delivery in Northeastern Ontario.

 

Status:

  • PACS implementation July 2002 to January 2003 occurred without a hitch

  • Staff and referring physician reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • Major reduction of unnecessary patient & physician travel

Progress Made:

PACS links to institutions like the North Eastern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre (NEORCC) and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto continue to be established.

EMPI (Enterprise Master Patient ID) testing is currently underway.  Many patients need to travel to Timmins for surgery or specialist referrals.  The EMPI solution will permit accurate retrieval of a patient's imaging procedures from other institutions.

In June 2004, NORrad upgraded its online storage (cache) by installing a SAN (Storage Area Network).  This was done in response to the increasing demand for storage of diagnostic images.  Currently, the IBM FastT600 Turbo provides 10.5 Terabytes of online storage and is upgradeable to 35 Terabytes.

As of October 1st, 2004 the Englehart and District Hospital has become the tenth hospital of the NORrad partnership.  Diagnostic images will be transmitted to the Timmins and District Hospital for reporting by a radiologist and for long term storage.

Diagrams

Existing NORrad PACS Structure

(click to enlarge thumbnails)

 

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