First UK pilot of pioneering radiology referral software kicks off at London hospital and local GP surgeries

Friday 16 November 2018

An integrated clinical decision support (CDS) software package to improve imaging referrals and workflow is now being trialed in the UK. The new iRefer CDS package incorporates The Royal College of Radiologists’ (RCR) world-renowned iRefer radiology referral guidelines into a bespoke IT solution from Canadian CDS experts MedCurrent.   

Following pilots in Australia, Canada and the Middle East, the iRefer CDS was launched into UK clinical practice on November 15, as part of a six-month pilot at London North West (LNW) University Healthcare NHS Trust.

The implementation has been assisted locally by GE Healthcare as part of their investment in innovative solutions, and the software will be routinely used for imaging requests by clinicians in primary care, acute ambulatory care and rheumatology before wider release. 

The iRefer CDS solution works by providing an integrated, user-friendly interface to guide referring clinicians in making the most appropriate imaging requests for their patients, based upon the patients’ clinical symptoms and examination findings, and then sending those imaging test requests electronically and tracking their results via the hospital trust’s integrated IT systems. 

The software will help radiology teams manage diagnostic imaging referrals more effectively, improving hospital workflow and ensuring patients get the right imaging test the first time, with minimised exposure to ionising radiation.     

Dr Denis Remedios, Clinical Project Lead at LNW University Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“We feel that the innovative CDS system improves clinical care with faster access by referrer and patient to the best test first, usually in three clicks, while minimising exposure to unnecessary radiation. This helps provide efficiency and uniformity of imaging decisions between referrer and radiologist, based on iRefer, reducing clinical variation and time spent on vetting. We are also pleased that GE Healthcare have enabled this ground-breaking project with their experience, drive and programme management.” 

RCR President Dr Nicola Strickland added: 

“We are delighted to see the iRefer CDS now being used hands-on in a UK hospital trust, and very much look forward to the pilot demonstrating all the benefits that can come from using our expert referral package fully integrated into an electronic requesting and paperless results system.

“Radiologists and our referring colleagues must ensure patients get quick and accurate scan results, while being protected from unnecessary radiation. Our expert guidelines, delivered in this innovative CDS format, gives clinicians the best tools to make sure we deliver the right imaging tests, protect patients and help hospitals and referrers become more efficient with a seamless electronic workflow.”

Dr Steve Herman, Chief Medical Officer at MedCurrent, added:

“Our continued collaboration with the RCR, hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups will enable more appropriate, evidence-based care for patients. We look forward to demonstrating the benefits of the system through the pilots and expanding the implementation of iRefer CDS in the UK and internationally.”