The trial runs have been successful, and the system will go live in another 10 days as the final integration between the RIS, which uses the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS).

Film-less, paper-less medical imaging will soon become a reality at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) here as the Department of Radiodiagnosis gets ready to go live with its Radiology Information System (RIS).

The trial runs have been successful, and the system will go live in another 10 days as the final integration between the RIS, which uses the Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS); the diagnostic imaging equipment; and the hospital information system is completed, Sumod Mathew Koshy, Assistant Professor of Radiodiagnosis, RCC, says.

PACS is a computer system that allows the digital capture, viewing, storage, and transmission of medical images. The system has a network of computers and Web-based workstations that will be interfaced with the diagnostic imaging equipment – X-ray, mammogram unit, CT, MRI, and ultrasound scanners.

Every patient has a unique patient ID in the hospital information system, which is transferred on to the Radiology Information System. Whenever radio diagnostic investigation is ordered for a patient, the images are sent to the PACS live, in real time. The radiologists sitting in front of the monitors in the PACS room review the images and report back to the RIS. The images will be made available on every computer monitor connected to the network in the hospital.

“This means that the workflow is smoother and less time-consuming. As all diagnostic images are made available live for the radiologists sitting in the PACS room, the waiting time required for the patient and for the radiologists’ evaluation of the films can be avoided. At present, a patient has to wait for at least a day,” Dr. Koshy says.

As soon as the radiologist gives his final report, this is available, along with the images, for the clinician sitting in the outpatient clinic. A patient will be seen by various specialists in different clinics in a single day, and as the images are available on screen for every clinician, this facilitates easy communication and treatment planning between doctors.

This seamless integration between diagnostic and treatment modalities eliminates a lot of delays. In a specialty tertiary care centre such as the RCC, the PACS system has a lot of advantages. On an average, RCC does around 10 MRIs, 30 CT scans, 25 mammograms, 150 X-rays, and 75 ultrasounds in a single day.

The images can be given on a CD or as films if the patient requires them for consultation at some higher treatment centre. PACS has a huge storage volume too.