The very significant numbers of radiologist posts around the country unfilled, NHS spending on outsourced teleradiology services at record highs and the huge backlogs in reporting across NHS hospitals2-4, have prompted The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) to publish a timely new document Who shares wins: efficient, collaborative radiology solutions1 This would enable diagnostic images and their reports to be shared between interconnected networks of trusts.
Speaking about the concept of radiology networks, Dr Nicola Strickland, RCR President said:
“We believe that if the NHS created its own Network Teleradiology Platform (NTP) then this would allow for more collaborative working across clinical networks. Night-time radiology reporting could be made much more efficient and cost effective by reporting at network levels using NTPs. Such platforms could also allow different trusts to tap into expertise in specialist areas such as paediatric or head and neck radiology which, in some smaller trusts, are often supported by only one radiologist.”
NTPs provide an information technology (IT) infrastructure for sharing reporting capacity, rather than paying large sums of money to private teleradiology providers for backlog reporting. In addition, NTP would support network-based on-call for stroke physicians and neurosurgeons thereby enhancing the currently inadequate stroke service in most parts of the UK, and would also support network-based multidisciplinary team meetings (MDTMs).
In a recent survey4 the RCR found that, across the NHS, systems for sharing imaging studies (mainly X-ray and scans) and their reports between hospitals are woefully inadequate, leading to unnecessary delays and potentially to patient harm.
Commenting Dr Strickland said:
“Radiologists and oncologists are deeply frustrated by the difficulties encountered when sharing imaging studies between local and regional hospitals. NTPs, set up on a regional basis throughout the UK and integrated with a vendor neutral index (VNI)5 would solve many of the current inadequacies of healthcare in the NHS today and benefit both clinicians and patients. Our publication Who shares wins: efficient, collaborative radiology solutions gives NHS departments and sustainability and transformation plan leads practical details on precisely how they could work collaboratively and share images effectively.”
- Who shares wins: efficient, collaborative radiology solutions Key points are summarised in a report infographic.
- Unreported X-rays, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: Results of a snapshot survey of English National Health Service (NHS) trusts. London: The Royal College of Radiologists, 2015.
- Diagnostic radiology – our patients are still waiting ... London: The Royal College of Radiologists, 2016.
- It’s good to share: medical image and report exchange between UK health care providers London: The Royal College of Radiologists, 2016
- Investment by the NHS in regional NTPs with an integrated vendor neutral index (VNI) does not require replacement of existing local RIS-PACS solutions. It connects existing IT systems to enable collaborative working and sharing in a patient-centric way. Sharing imaging studies via a VNI would give radiologists, and other doctors, immediate access to all their patients’ previous imaging studies and their reports across the region. These would be available on their local picture archiving and communication system (PACS), even if those imaging examinations were performed in different hospitals in the region. A VNI would also stop delays to patient care while imaging studies are requested and sent from one hospital to another, and then uploaded to the relevant IT systems for viewing, comparison and additional reporting (addenda).