The lack of timely and easy access to medical images is a major problem in the New Zealand health care system. Until recently, digital medical images were stored in ‘silo’ PACS systems with every public and private radiology provider having their own separate system that could not communicate with others, and which could not be accessed by outside health care providers. Viewing of images by ‘outsiders’ was and still is widely achieved by either printing film, burning CDs, or by a multitude of proprietary remote x-ray viewing programs. None of these workarounds are satisfactory and every day the radiology and medical community faces the frustrations of unavailable images.
Swift Technology Group, our partner in New Zealand, offers state-of-the-art and efficient IT solutions for small, large or multiple sites. Together with IMAGE Information Systems, they have installed CentralPACS, which is designed as nationwide solution where all public and private radiology providers can ‘deposit’ their images and all radiology users can view them as and when required.
CentralPACS is a national image repository that can store all types of medical images particularly from radiology and pathology, but also from other imaging specialties such as cardiology and dentistry and ‘visible light’ modalities such as endoscopy, ophthalmology, dermatology, and other disciplines. The images are transferred into CentralPACS, IMAGE Information Systems’ iQ-WEBX, from the existing private and public PACS over the internet and they can be securely accessed over the internet using any web browser on any computer, smart phone or other internet capable device. Access is available for any appropriately registered health care provider who has signed up to the privacy and security requirements. Patients can opt out if they wish. The system has been successfully in place for just over a year.
CentralPACS marks an enormous breakthrough in offering a single National PACS system for a country of 4 million people. Over 700 physicians have already signed up for the service and new sign-ups are rapidly increasing. So far, there are more than 190,000 studies on the repository. Those using CentralPACS can feel the positive effects in terms of minimizing staff and patient time, resources and frustration. Bruce Allen is director at Horizon Radiology, who are working with CentralPACS in currently 27 locations across the nation. He says: “Swift Group has saved us many tens of thousands of dollars since becoming our IT partner 3 years ago […] We are in the health industry and require reliability, security and responsiveness, as well as innovative affordable IT solutions. Swift Group have provided that. We maintain large, sensitive databases and every day we move gigabytes of critical data between multiple sites around NZ. Swift Group have been excellent in devising innovative, cost effective solutions for us in a true partnership.”
Matthew Gillard, one of the two directors at Swift, highly rates the cooperation with IMAGE: “Throughout this project IMAGE Information Systems have been on board to customize the system to suit our needs, with very quick turnaround times. Without the support of IMAGE, we would not be the leader in providing better, faster and more efficient ways of sharing medical images around the New Zealand health system. CentralPACS has been an amazing tool which has helped Horizon and its associate sites win tenders to provide private imaging services to the public health sector.” To sum it up, the Swift Technology Group has made a major step towards bringing both private and public imaging services together.