South Tyneside optimises workflow with a long-awaited Radiology application from Soliton IT
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust provides hospital services in South Tyneside and community services in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The Trust has one main hospital site – South Tyneside District Hospital and looks after thousands of patients in the community with over a million contacts every year.
As one of the largest departments in the hospital, the Radiology department offers a diagnostic and interventional imaging service. These services are supported by varying IT systems – PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) for routing clinical images around the hospital and a PAS (Patient Administration System) to provide patient information accordingly. Although these systems were the backbone of the department for over a decade, the workflow element of the system was in need of a refresh; the Trust did not use a dedicated RIS (Radiology Information System) and instead used a custom-built radiology module within their Silverlink PAS to manage workflow.
Customised PAS brought limitations
Installed in 1996, South Tyneside’s PAS held some limitations for the modern Radiology department, mainly due it being customised to adopt Radiology functions. This brought functional issues due to its lack of digital autonomy, and staff could not work via worklists, import and attach Electronic Request data to the attendance, scan hand-written requests into the attendance or import a patient’s clinical history, which in turn impacted productivity within the department. Bronia Fleet, Business Manager – Clinical Support Services for the Trust, comments:
“We found our previous processes very manual and time-consuming, mainly due to the additional steps we had to put in place to reduce risk. The Trust ultimately wants to work paperless, and enable staff to do things once rather than several times and consequently reduce risk without additional precautionary safe-guarding steps.”
PACS Manager Claire Weston adds:
“With the previous Radiology module, we couldn’t identify priority to a request or vet – the system was not able to accommodate this and had little intuition in the specialist discipline to which we work.”
The Trust was aware that more defined RIS systems had entered the market and this opportunity, along with the feedback from a new radiology-dedicated reporting system used within a neighbouring hospital, supported Bronia and the Radiology team in creating a business case for a new RIS and PACS system which prompted a significant investment into their Radiology IT framework.
Project team defines criteria
The Trust reviewed two RIS vendors for compliance with the GE PACS integration and RIS efficiencies. Soliton IT, a UK RIS developer, was recommended by the neighbouring hospital, as a nationally-leading vendor with a host of Radiology IT software solutions. After a demonstration of their RIS, Radiology+, the Trust opted for a site visit to a newly deployed Radiology+ site, Mid Cheshire NHS Trust, to see the system in use.
After several onsite demonstrations, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust chose Radiology+ RIS from Soliton IT. Claire explains:
“We liked everything about Radiology+ and could immediately see that it was simple to use and navigate. At this early stage, we could visualise the screens, how we could use it and even explain it to other people within the team. Mid Cheshire had a similar organisational set-up to us and could demonstrate the transition in terms that we could relate to.”
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“I was amazed when the Trust performed the first ultrasound with the new RIS. From my many years as a Radiographer I was delighted to see that Radiology+ displayed everything that a Radiographer would want to see to support the patient pathway on one screen. It was such a positive experience to see staff engaging so quickly with the new Soliton RIS.”
“This has been such a positive experience. The consultants are now working very effectively, and despite the fact that deploying a RIS was a huge task, at no point did I think that it wasn’t going to be fantastic.”
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