The Lapland Hospital District in the northernmost region of the country caters for between a quarter and a third of Finlands territory. This vast area is populated by only 2.5% of the country´s inhabitants - not even 119,000 people live here; every year, however, Lapland - "Lappi" in Finnish - is visited by some 1,800,000 tourists. To provide basic, or even specialized, health services to this disparate population presents a major challenge to local authorities. PACS from VISUS has now turned into a key support tool for health workers in the region.
It was just the year 2000 when private practice radiologists Dr. Emil Reif and Dr. Torsten Möller offered hospitals their diagnostic services. Today, both are managing Diagnostic Network AG, a company with a mission to provide superior, area-wide, round-the-clock, cross-sectional diagnostic imaging by means of teleradiology. Within a space of only five years they have built up an easily accessible computer centre in Dillingen on Saar which is linked to about 50 hospitals and 50 diagnostic centres. Their main focus is on hospitals that lack their own radiology units and welcome this endeavour by two teleradiology visionaries.
In radiological diagnostics it becomes more and more important to provide findings in real time to image acquisistion - not only in the hospital but also in the doctors´ practice where the patient is waiting for his/her radiographs and findings to bring to his/her GP. In a film-based radiology the doctor has to make a decision: he is either giving the patient the radiographs to take with them and later on has to duplicate the scans to provide findings which leads to higher costs. Or he finds the scans right afterwards which leads to longer waiting times for patients.
The PACS developments of the past few years have been primarily focused on the needs of radiology or radiological imaging. In this regard digital diagnosing and archiving are of primary importance; these will be amortized through the reduction of film costs. From the very beginning, Augusta Hospital Bochum together with VISUS Co. has been innovative and also has included the imaging procedures of other departments in the PACS concept.
It is no longer possible to manage a radiology unit economically without a PACS. Such a system is indispensable with regard to organizing effective work processes and ensuring high quality diagnostics in particular - especially when providing services to mammography screening units in parallel. This is exactly the situation at the radiology group practice of Dr. Krüger, Dr. Stöblen, Dr. Baschour, PD Dr. Eising and Ms. Stelkens-Gebhardt. In order to keep costs transparent and budgetable, the radiologists decided that rather than buying a PACS solution, they would task VISUS with operating it for them.
The Sana Clinic in Remscheid is a hospital focusing on specialized care with 16 departments and 684 planned beds. In 2005 it was newly constructed as a result of combining two locations. "The new facility provided the opportunity to improve the organization of procedures and, thereby, to work more economically. That requires rapid and lean processes", explains Michael Willmann, M.Sc. Head of Information Technology Department. A significant part of the comprehensive IT strategy required to accomplish this objective is the digitalization of radiology.
"It was our aim to integrate radiological procedures into the IT infrastructure with appropriate archive management. In order to meet this requirement for 32,000 radiological examinations a year we had to supplement our existing hospital information system (HIS) and radiology information system (RIS) from the iSOFT company to include a PACS," says IT manager Reiner Selent, explaining the starting point for the procurement of a digital picture archiving and communication system. It had to have a functioning link with the RIS and preferably be LINUX or UNIX-based. "We wanted to realize clinic-wide image distribution employing web technology. In order to make us independent from a single vendor we did not want the system to be restricted to Internet Explorer or other Windows components," Mr. Selent explains