UK Business Manager at Vital Images
Medical imaging departments are producing more images with greater detail in shorter timeframes than ever before.
“To manage the workload, healthcare professionals rely on hardware and software that enables images to be quickly delivered and interpreted in appropriate locations,” says Chris Whitton, UK Business Manager at Vital Images, a Toshiba Medical Group Company, which provides advanced software and services for medical imaging world-wide.
Lack of funding is leading hospitals to manage with outdated technology, impacting patient care, but often traditional solutions are expensive.
“Modern CT scanners produce around ten times the volume of data per scan than a decade ago,” says Whitton. “This puts pressure on networking infrastructure between healthcare sites, slowing data transmission times and report delivery.
The increased data flow and shortages of specialist staff have led to the use of independent teleradiology companies and the formation of regional image-sharing networks.
One solution to slow transmission times lies in image streaming. Whitton says: “Here new technologies avoid transmitting large data volumes by utilizing streaming solutions. The data remains in a central location but large amounts of images can be viewed quickly using local and regional networks and wide-area networks which may include teleradiology providers.”
Greater competition between suppliers drives prices down
Other trends include greater interest in ‘deconstructed’ medical imaging systems. Rather than buying the whole system from one vendor, the component parts may be sourced from several suppliers. “Greater competition between suppliers drives prices down,” says Whitton.
A shared storage system
Deconstructed solutions allow technologies to be selectively added to the hospital’s existing technology as required. One example is vendor neutral archives (VNAs) – a storage system that can be accessed using any vendor’s equipment. This avoids the need to purchase separate archives and improves patient care by providing healthcare professionals an easy way to access all patient documents, photographs and images. Connecting a universal viewer means they can be seen side by side.
Easy access to all patient and imaging-related information means healthcare providers can also run analytics, helping to optimize service, provide the best patient care and manage costs.
King Edward VII hospital in London is one of the first UK hospitals to deploy a deconstructed imaging solution, including a VNA, image-streaming and universal viewers from Vital Images.