The Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital has taken the first steps towards digitising patient data. The hospital has acquired the Picture Archival and Communication System (PACS) which helps upload digital x-rays and CT scans to a server that can be accessed anywhere inside the hospital. This can allow a doctor, irrespective of her location inside the hospital, to make a decision seconds after the x-ray or scan has been taken. The system will prove especially useful during emergencies.

The Rs. 22 lakh-system that was installed on Tuesday will also help the hospital go green by reducing hazardous waste. The system will benefit eight specialities – radiology, medicine, orthopaedics, cardiothoracic, trauma, surgery and neurology departments. Currently, 800 x-rays are taken every day of which 300 are digital.

The system comes with zooming facility. By focusing on a particular lesion, for instance, a chest physician would be able to diagnose if the patient is suffering from tuberculosis. Orthopaedists can analyse the images and arrive at treatment protocol. The system can store images for four years.

In the next phase, the hospital proposes to include MRI and ultrasonogram equipment to the PACS. “In the future, we will include the histopathology department also. Currently, the pathologist has to look through the microscope to arrive at a diagnosis but with PACS, the pathologist will have access to images to form an opinion,” said Dean V. Kanagasabai, who commissioned the system on Tuesday.

R. Lakshmi Narasimhan, professor of Neurology at the Madras Medical College to which the hospital is attached, said: “It will help to provide better service especially where timely intervention is essential. Until now we had to go to the CT scan centre to pick up the images. The PACS will allow us to visualise the images in our department though our local area server.”

The facility is a useful teaching tool for students. “The images allow us to compare them at various stages of treatment. With the electronic format, the back up is easy,” he added.

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