Australia's eHealth NSW leads upgrade for better imaging to enhance patient care
As announced last week, eHealth NSW led a major state-wide upgrade of the Enterprise Imaging Repository (EIR) viewer software which allows NSW Health clinicians to access diagnostic-quality medical images from across the state.
The EIR is the centralised imaging store for NSW Health, and its viewer enables centralised images and reports to be assessed from any modern PC within NSW public hospitals, NSW Ambulance and Justice Health. Since 2012, the EIR has provided clinical staff with immediate access to a patient’s previous and current images, scans and reports, irrespective of which public hospital the patient has visited.
The recent state-wide upgrade is a significant advance in the digital transformation of the state’s public health system. Radiologists and treating clinicians can now access a much-improved quality of medical images in the EIR via the electronic medical record (eMR) and the HealtheNet Clinical Portal.
The new EIR viewer is browser-based, allow it to run without the need for additional software. There are also optional mobile apps for approved Apple and Android devices connected to NSW Health’s secure Wi-Fi service.
“The ability for clinicians to collaborate and view the same images real time is enhancing the decision-making process, which is a great outcome for patients and families,” said eHealth NSW’s Group Manager, Clinical Repository and Integration Services, Kendall Hockey.
“The upgrade is providing higher and now diagnostic-quality of imaging, bringing enhanced patient care and significant cost savings related to fewer transfers and repeat tests being required,” he added.
The new and improved EIR viewer first went live at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and at the Newborn & paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) in early February, followed by hospitals in Southern NSW and mid North Coast Local Health Districts the week after.
Hosted by the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, NETS is a state-wide service of NSW Health and the global leader in retrieval medicine for newborns and children; providing expert clinical advice, clinical co-ordination, emergency treatment and stabilisation and inter-hospital transport for the newly born up to children aged to 15 years.
At NETS, one of the highest users of the EIR, the benefits of the improved EIR viewer software to the diagnosis and treatment of the state’s critically ill and injured babies and children were immediately evident to the team.
“The low-resolution quality of images held within the previous version of the EIR was problematic for NETS and meant that consultants were unable to rely on the content for diagnostic purposes,” said State Director of NETS Dr Andrew Berry, who assisted eHealth NSW in piloting the new EIR software.
According to Dr Berry, the introduction of DICOM-quality images is a massive leap forward for the EIR. The upgraded interface is more aesthetically pleasing in terms of its design and the clearer fields provide an intuitive user experience for NETS consultants. The theme layout offers a simplified navigation and overall the solution looks more professional.
“New functions include a collaboration tool to permit any relevant clinician with email to also view the images, which is a very welcome new feature,” Dr Berry added.
As reported earlier late last year, NSW Health has also enhanced the HealtheNet Clinical Portal by adding patients’ discharge medication information via My Health Record. By sharing additional medication information, the system can better support healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care, particularly in cases of emergency, as it saves clinicians time in looking for important medical information.