This week, the world’s leading minds in radiology are meeting in Vienna for the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), which highlights the trends, challenges and opportunities shaping the future of European healthcare. On the radar this year: how digital connectivity and big data, reduced radiation dose, and streamlined workflows are helping healthcare professionals improve clinical and operational outcomes and enhance their patients’ experience. This is one in a series of stories that looks at GE Healthcare innovations being highlighted at ECR, including a profile of some technologies that give us a glimpse into the future of healthcare delivery.
When data, insights and care can be seamlessly transported from one machine, clinician or hospital to the next, and healthcare is transformed from its analog roots into its digital future, the impact on lives around the world can be significant.
This is what is happening in Austria, where five hospitals that belong to Austria’s largest healthcare provider NÖ Landeskliniken-Holding, and seven private diagnostic centers have formed a radiology collaboration network that is enabling clinicians to securely access patient data from any hospital in the network. This is helping improve hospital productivity, avoid unnecessary patient transfers and repeat exams.
Clinicians can now obtain and offer second opinions out of reporting hours – for example during weekends and night shifts - thanks to the network, jointly developed by GE Healthcare and PANSOMA GmbH, and based on GE’s Centricity™ Solutions for Enterprise Imaging. The technology connects existing radiology information and PACS systems, without the need to replace them, and allows data to be streamed instead of transferred from one system to another, giving clinicians instant access to patients’ history.
“We are now able to review clinical images of patients taken at our trauma center from any location as soon as they are acquired and then decide whether patients need to be transferred to a different center or not,” explains Ing. Alexander Bernegger, PACS Project Manager at NÖ Landeskliniken-Holding.
“Instantly available data means surgical operations can be prepared earlier so the patient can be treated earlier.” Previously, patient information and data were transferred via a protected healthcare data network, which could take up to two hours, according to NÖ Landeskliniken-Holding.
The pressure on European healthcare systems is ever-increasing as the population ages and budgets tighten. “In addition to that, there is an increasing need for specialization, as a consequence of the growing complexity of technology and methods such as functional imaging. But it is simply not possible to have this level of specialization available at each location,” adds Bernegger.
As hospitals are challenged to work with a decreasing amount of resources, new concepts in diagnostic imaging, and especially in trauma care, are required.
“An integrated system which allows us to dynamically balance the workload across both public and private institutes will be key to overcome these challenges and enable us to offer the best possible care to patients,” concludes Bernegger.