How good would it sound if the next time you were involved in an unfortunate accident that required you to receive an X ray, it would not be necessary for you to go to your usual emergency room or hospital that is often very crowded and can take hours to visit? I’m sure this sounds pretty good, except your probably wondering how this can be true.
What makes something like this possible is a digital system enabling radiologists and doctors to have access to all information concerning MRI, X ray and CT images (BBC). This could simply be done on the computer screen instantly within their office.
This is allowing patients to visit their local doctor or nurses office when the radiologists and doctors are not present; but is much more assessable to patients than busy hospitals. The images would then be sent to their doctors and they could respond to their patients as if they were in the same room. It saves the patients travel and makes the doctors work more efficient as well.
Hospitals like St. Mary’s in West London have been using this groundbreaking technology for a year (BBC).
Sometimes when nurses observe and study an x ray, they may have some questions in which they need answers immediately. This system is enabling them to contact doctors and experts to receive the help they need, when they need it.
“The Picture Archiving and Communication System, or PACS, is part of the controversial NHS IT program in England” (BBC). It is costing £245m to set up methods to store the data images and £775 for the technology to create and send the images themselves. There have been skeptics to this new system due to high costs; however, many doctors and users of the new technology are strongly approving of its excellent use.
Another tool this technology lends to the doctors is the ability to digitally enhance the images to better identify any problems. By increasing the contrast or zooming in on images, it can better and faster diagnose problems as compared to traditional methods. In addition, it can compare multiple images at a time to track patient progress and help to make changes more noticeable.
The main complaint with the software so far is that it is not as intuitive and easy to use as it should be for professionals who are not all tech savvy. Eventually doctors hope to store many images and sources of information for all their patients to help track progress over long periods of time.
Many medical professionals believe it is only a matter of time before this technology begins to catch onto more areas beyond England.
Emma Wilkinson. “X-ray technology in the 21st century.” BBC News URL: (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6700847.stm)