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Future of Imaging February 2019

Touchscreen tables and giant boards make imaging more visible


Alexander Peck

Superintendent Radiographer and Chartered IT Professional, British Institute of Radiology

Long-imagined in hit TV shows and films, futuristic devices for displaying diagnostic medical imaging data are now becoming a common sight across the NHS and universities.

Patients’ diagnostic pathways are now all in one place

Until now, a key cause for lost time in medicine was the disconnect between the display of radiology, pathology, cytology and other diagnostic departments’ imaging.

Traditionally, diagnostic data remained siloed within separate I.T. systems, but new technologies – including entire table- or wall-sized touch-screen boards – do away with these boundaries, allowing for a patient’s full diagnostic pathway to be displayed at the same time.

For example, in breast cancer care, all portions of the diagnostic imaging process can be collated in one system and viewed in a simple, easy-to-follow, sequential manner. With the ever-increasing complexity and options available within modern healthcare, this is a great time saver to those involved in both the diagnostic and treatment processes.

Full clinical pathway from screening to follow-up

Quicker collaboration and planning for surgery and treatment

Integrated within each of the devices are secure connections to other units, allowing for specialists in different areas of the world to communicate and safely share their personal expertise on individual cases. The secure connections also allow for a surgeon in a single department to pre-plan a more complex procedure in detail, in advance, for themselves or perhaps a colleague, to carry out later.

Multi-disciplinary team meetings can also take place in a far more dynamic and interactive manner than the historical ‘lecture theatre’, didactic manner. Secure sharing of anonymised cases opens up the chance for quick collaboration as needed.

A surgeon planning a case

Less-invasive procedures

Millions of autopsies are performed around the world every year. With these new technologies, ‘hands-off’, virtual autopsies can become the norm in a good percentage of cases. These are more compatible with religious requirements, are less invasive and comparatively quicker.

Having large format displays, and software pre-loaded to handle advanced 3D reconstruction, virtual dissection and application of AI routines allows for these cross-practise developments.

For students attending autopsies to learn about internal anatomy, tables and boards offer fewer physiological barriers to their learning environment. Autopsies no longer require students’ physical attendance during set times of the day, yet provide more consistent teaching outcomes: the students’ learning opportunities are no longer dependant on the cases of the day.

A prosected torso

Positive student interaction during education and training

Traditionally, as learning opportunities were dictated by the time and complexity of cases available, a busy surgical environment presented challenges for educational efforts. Having access to curated and pre-prepared cases from around the world on a global education portal now allows for a wider variety of experience to be gained more quickly, in a safe environment and for lower costs.

For those setting out in the medical profession, the real-life radiographic imaging can be overlaid with line-drawings of vascular systems or other body components and even compared with built-in textbook cases or typical pathologies to aid understanding.

A diagnostic touch-screen board with education markup visible

Increased patient engagement and accessibility

Patients who become engaged in their treatment pathway and share an understanding of their condition have repeatedly been found to have more positive outcomes.

Tables and boards integrated into each hospital’s standard picture archiving and communication system can present the diagnostic imaging in a far more accessible and visual manner than traditional notes and PC monitors on a healthcare professional’s desk.

Recently in-use at the Nobel Nightcap events, modern technologies such as these educational boards and tables (plus others now becoming more commonplace), give healthcare professionals another tool in their armoury for improving patient care.

Patients can easily understand their own data

February 2019

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