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Diagnostic imaging

NWT implements wide-ranging CR solution

YELLOWKNIFE – The Government of the Northwest Territories has purchased and implemented an innovative digital imaging solution from Carestream Health, of Rochester, N.Y., to improve healthcare in its remote communities.

In the past, film images taken in the territory’s various community health centres were transported hundreds of miles to Yellowknife, the territorial capital, for reading and reporting – a process that could take up to two weeks for a diagnosis. Today digital images are available for reading in just 10-15 minutes.

The project involved installation of a DIRECTVIEW Classic CR system and a CARESTREAM workstation at 18 community health centres located throughout the vast region, which covers 1.3 million square kilometers (519,731 square miles) and contains communities both above and below the Arctic Circle.

Images are forwarded from the workstation to a server that transmits exams to a PACS installed at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

Transmission via satellite or microwave communications takes about 10 minutes per study, so urgent exams can be viewed immediately on the PACS by radiologists and other clinicians who provide diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

“Digital imaging has helped all of our patients, particularly those with serious illnesses. Now practitioners can immediately assess a patient’s condition to determine what type of care is required and if a patient needs to be urgently transported to the nearest hospital,” said Jessica Young, Projects Coordinator, Information Services for the Government’s Department of Health and Social Services.

“Carestream Health overcame daunting logistics to transport and install equipment at these sites. Despite challenging conditions, this solution offers excellent image quality and rapid transmission times,” said Young.

The communities served by the new technology contain 250 to 3,000 people and have community health centres primarily staffed by nurses, who are either permanent staff or serve on a rotating schedule.

Stanton Territorial Health’s PACS Administrator Megan Mitchell traveled to each clinic to train personnel. “When community residents learned they had access to digital imaging, they were extremely appreciative. The nurses recognize the enhanced quality offered by the CR system, and they don’t miss dealing with film processing and chemicals,” she said.

Carestream Health equipped Mitchell with remote electronic access to each site so she can view screen displays and equipment status and address any questions nurses or clinic personnel might have. The company’s field engineer also uses remote access to help resolve any service issues.

David Shearing-Wittig of Toronto-based Healthtech Consultants was retained by the government as a project manager for this implementation. “Because of the challenges created by microwave and satellite communications, I traveled to the first installation to verify that the images were being transmitted effectively to the PACS,” he said. “Carestream Health’s staff created a solution that delivers images rapidly and accurately, despite the challenges presented by low bandwidth communication methods in this remote area.”

About Carestream Health
Carestream Health is a worldwide provider of dental and medical imaging systems and healthcare IT solutions; molecular imaging systems for life science research and drug discovery/development; x-ray film and digital x-ray systems for non-destructive testing; and advanced materials for the precision films and electronics markets. For more information about the company’s broad portfolio of products, solutions and services, please contact your Carestream Health representative or visit www.carestream.com.

Posted May 5, 2011

 

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