The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is one of the largest acute and community providers in the West Midlands. Services are delivered across three sites, New Cross Hospital, Cannock Chase Hospital and West Park Hospital.  The Trust offers a range of secondary and tertiary services, maternity, A&E, critical care and outpatients. The site’s new Emergency Care centre and Heart & Lung unit has increased its presence across the region along with 3 vertically integrated GP practices which are run by the Trust. New Cross’ services are supported by 8000 members of staff who provide dedicated care to the site’s 800 beds.

New Cross’ Imaging Department is housed in a purpose-built facility and provides diagnostic and interventional radiological services for the site and other referring hospitals. An integral part of the Trust, the Radiology team offers specialised radiological examinations, assessments and x-ray services using state of the art imaging equipment and processes.

Clear stipulations for a new RIS

A large contributor to these services is the department’s RIS/PACS – responsible for handling both radiological images and the electronic management of the Radiology department itself. In 2011, in their strive to digitalise internal practices and quicken departmental processes, New Cross had adopted two Philips systems: Philips iSite PACS for managing clinical images and a RIS system which uniquely could e-mail the reports directly back to the referring consultant. The system did have some drawbacks in that it was not particularly user friendly and the support was not UK based.

As the contract for this RIS was coming to an end, New Cross took the easy decision to put their RIS out to tender. Their misfortunes with their former RIS had prompted Stuart Simper, Group Manager for Radiology, and Sue Whitehouse, RIS Manager, to create some firm stipulations about their future RIS in terms of features, automation, integration and support. The replacement RIS had to offer functions such as 24/7 monitoring of the system, mirrored servers for safe-guarding and, importantly, UK Support which the Trust could call on in real time for an immediate response. In terms of features, the RIS also had to provide full audit trails, a statistics package and the ability to email reports. Additionally, as system integration and process autonomy were at the top of the department’s list, RIS integration with the new version of Philips iSite PACS – V4.4 -was vital to the selection of the product.

A Philips User Conference in 2012 brought UK PACS users together for discussions on industry innovations and invited introductions to Hospital Information Systems (HIS) vendors. RIS developers Soliton IT were in attendance and could provide system demonstrations to NHS Trusts who were seeking replacement RIS. Both Sue and Stuart were able to see both Soliton IT’s Radiology+ and other RIS systems alongside each other to evaluate their individual merits. Similarly, the interactive nature of the conference meant that New Cross could propose their RIS criteria to each vendor and assess each solution’s scope for system features and, crucially, ability to customise to the Trust.

Stuart comments: “New Cross needed a solution that could adapt to our practices and our department – not the other way around”.

“In-practice” demonstration seals the deal for Radiology+

Further investigations exploring other RIS systems by visiting other NHS Trusts to see the systems in an operational setting were carried out. As Radiology+ was already in use in Southend University Hospitals and St George’s Hospitals, both sites were clear advocates for the Soliton IT solution – showing New Cross the system features in practice and presenting measurable benefits of the Soliton IT RIS application. After their site visits, the Trust had made their decision – New Cross opted for Radiology+ from Soliton IT.

Radiology+ is an intuitive and workflow driven application created specifically for the electronic management of Radiology departments. Working alongside PACS platforms, the application offers a detailed interface which incorporates all stages of Radiology processes; patient planning and appointments, resource management, results distribution and statistical analysis. Its workflow tools provide the expected data collection of a standard RIS but with additional features such as advanced user configuration, data sharing and appointment scheduling. Radiology+ differs from a typical RIS in that it is driven by Trust processes and focuses on department autonomy and workflow. The application has been formulated by Soliton IT’s own in-house developers to be totally customisable to individual users – ensuring a seamless fit into their working methods. Importantly, the flexible structure of Radiology+, combined with the experience of Soliton IT’s development team, means that the application can accommodate any modular additions requested by the user. In New Cross’ case, the need to send Radiology reports from the RIS to GPs gave Soliton IT the opportunity to create a bolt-on application to facilitate this routing – fitting it seamlessly into the system and enabling users to maximise its use.

New Cross Hospitals went live with Radiology+ in April 2016 and saw immediate benefits compared to their legacy system. The system colour-coding meant that users had an at-a-glance view of schedules and the appointment system was intuitive with its click-and-drop functionality. The Radiology+ interface was concise and content-rich, showing every available tab, worklist, patient history and request cards all on one screen.

The new RIS integrated well with both the Philips iSite PACS and the Trust’s own Clinical Web Portal – providing New Cross Hospital optimised functionality, system autonomy and, a priority for the Trust, ultimate customisation to the hospital and respective users’ preferences.

Sue and Stuart reflect on the successful deployment of Radiology+ into New Cross Hospital:

“Soliton IT configured Radiology+ to our Trust’s preferences. They adapted their application to improve our Radiology processes and have shown a can-do attitude throughout. We were delighted with the amount of customisation that we were offered – I really felt like a customer”. Stuart Simper, Group Manager for Radiology, New Cross Hospital

“The ability to drive so many Radiology functions from one screen – and quickly – was welcomed by our Trust. Soliton IT has consistently shown competence and a positive attitude on this project”. Sue Whitehouse, RIS Manager, New Cross Hospital