October 7, 2010 (London, ON) -For the first time, all 26 hospital entities in the Erie St. Clair and South West Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) are now able to access filmless diagnostic images including x-rays, CT scans and MRIs.
As part of this initiative, physicians in any location in Southwestern Ontario can now access digital images and results that originated outside their institution in near real time.
“This is a significant milestone in improving patient care in Ontario,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “It means that patients are able to access specialists outside of their community without having to travel. It also means patients will require fewer tests and will spend less time waiting for their results.”
“This program is an integral part of Ontario’s ehealth strategy,” said Greg A. Reed, President and CEO of eHealth Ontario. “Now radiologists, referring physicians and specialists across Southwestern Ontario can view images and results anywhere, anytime using the Southwestern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network. This repository is the first of its kind in North America.”
Each year, 1.5 million diagnostic exams will be transferred to the diagnostic imaging repository (DI-r) where they can be accessed by acute care facilities in these two LHINs. Physicians also have the ability to compare images to previous scans increasing the quality of diagnosis. The Southwestern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network, built on GE Healthcare Centricity® OneView and Enterprise Archive, is also being expanded to integrate the Waterloo Wellington and Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHINS. The expanded network will manage more than three million exams annually, providing access to a comprehensive record of patient images acquired at multiple facilities from multiple vendor platforms.
“Canada Health Infoway has stood proudly behind this project and has been investing in it since 2003,” said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. “It is very gratifying to see how all the hard work and dedication that that has gone into this initiative will enhance health care for the 2.5 million residents of Southwestern Ontario.”
“What this means is better, faster care for patients,” notes Michael Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of the South West LHIN. “Investments in technology assist front-line providers as they work together to create an integrated health care system where patients are able to access and receive the care they need, when they need it.”
“People in our area receive care from a variety of providers both within our LHIN and outside of Erie St. Clair,” said Gary Switzer, Chief Executive Officer of the Erie St. Clair LHIN. “The repository is one more way we are working together as a health care system to put patients first by closing gaps between services and removing duplication.”
eHealth Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care combined have provided $32.7 million and Canada Health Infoway has provided $27.1 million to support the integration of Erie St. Clair and South West LHINs into the repository, which is part of the Ontario government’s ehealth agenda and supports Infoway’s vision for a pan-Canadian electronic health record system.
“Information sharing is critical in cancer care,” said Dr. Glenn Bauman, Head of Radiation Oncology, London Regional Cancer Program. “Our discussions around patients in multi-disciplinary team settings are richer and more informed because the specialist has easy and timely access to all imaging studies. By linking to regional hospitals, our specialists can work with local physicians so patients can get care closer to home without compromise in the quality and treatment planning process. This is the preferred patient care model.”
The Southwestern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network is one of four diagnostic imaging repositories in the province and is the largest to date. The other repositories include the Northern and Eastern Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network (NEODIN), the Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Repository Services (HDIRS) and GTA West. The entire province will be connected to a diagnostic imaging network by 2013.
eHealth Ontario is the organization responsible for implementing the government’s ehealth agenda and creating an electronic health record for all Ontarians by 2015.
Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of electronic health record projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.
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