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Breast screening service goes fully digital


8 September, 2010  

CSC has announced that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Breast Screening Service Unit has become the first unit to go-live with CSC’s new breast screening solution. This pioneering deployment will make the breast screening service the first in the south west peninsula region to go fully digital.

The CSC solution has enabled the integration of technology from GE and Siemens to work with PACS (Picture Archiving Communication System), which was already in use at the trust. The investment to move from film to digital imaging for mammography is centred around the trust’s Mermaid centre in Truro. The centre has three static mammographic units, with the help of two mobile mammographic units, and annually provides breast screening services to 25,000 women aged between 50 to 70.

CSC was approached by the trust to coordinate putting together a package of digital mammography for processing and storage equipment from multiple vendors in its role as the LSP (local service provider) for PACS in the region – a position it has held within the NHS National Programme for IT since the end of last year. Effectively this new CSC solution will enable full integration between its PACS solution and the NBSS (National Breast Screening System). This is part of a key deliverable set by the Department of Health (DoH) to enable all breast screening units across England to become digital by the end of 2010.

Although the screening equipment is based in Truro, the PACS suite links eleven healthcare centres in the region, offering healthcare professionals a single and more complete view of the patient throughout the initial screening, secondary screening and, if necessary, treatment stages.

The system can also display multiple forms of medical imaging data, including MRI and ultrasound scans. This saves healthcare professionals from having to load up several software suites to view individual file types separately. The solution utilises the trust’s existing expenditure on PACS local storage for medical imaging files. This means that all images can be accessed locally whilst being backed-up within the CSC data centre for longer term storage.

Dr. Donna Christensen, director of the trust’s breast screening service, believes the most significant breakthrough will be improved scans and better detection rates. She said: “We are very excited about the digital imaging we’re now using because it is far superior to older analogue equipment. It’s going to be a fantastic improvement. In particular, it’s going to be better at spotting early signs of breast cancer in dense glandular breast material. In these cases, we hope the new equipment will help us spot a third more cancers early on and offer women treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Alan Brimacombe, clinical imaging PACS manager for the trust, said: “I believe the 700 healthcare professionals who have access to PACS – including ward sisters, GPs, radiographers and surgeons – will not only find the digital imaging quality better but also far more convenient to work with. It’s a huge leap forwards for healthcare professionals across the region to be able to share mammograms and other test images. Film would generally just sit in one place but now we can distribute a wide variety of imaging data around the region to where it is needed and, crucially, they can do this on one system with one log-on so they don’t have to jump between different software packages.”
Gerry O’Keeffe, CSC vice president, UK Healthcare, believes that the combination of better detection rates and the convenience of having multiple test results accessed by healthcare professionals across a region offer a strong proposition to trusts that are yet to fully embrace the opportunities of digital technology. He said: “This deployment further enhances CSC’s much acclaimed PACS solution and demonstrates that we are assisting the NHS not only to improve outcomes but also to deliver benefits-driven and value-for-money solutions. All of the UK’s 80 breast screening units are expected to be evaluating digital breast screening technology before the end of the year so this is a very exciting area for CSC to be offering a market-leading solution.”

CSC is working on digitising breast screening services across the country and expects to be able to release further news regarding progress in several areas in the South, North West and West Midlands.

CSC