News, Secondary Care

Patients given access to x-rays, ultrasound and other imaging

Thousands of patients now have online access to a wide range of images from x-rays to CT and MRI scans thanks to an extension of a national network called the Image Exchange Portal.

The network connects every acute hospital in England and is relied on to share 35-40 million images each week between NHS professionals in different trusts.

Now with an extension to the network known as IEP with Anyone, it allows patients across the country to view their images from anywhere and start to share their own images with clinicians.

Annie Pinfold, a picture archiving and communication systems senior consultant at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This makes a real difference to our patients who need their imaging for all sorts of reasons. We have helped hundreds of patients in the last few months alone, ranging from serving UK armed forces personnel deployed in different parts of the world, through to a patient travelling overseas for advanced chemotherapy treatment, and many more patients who need images quickly to go on holiday, to support claims, to get second opinions or specialist treatment, or simply because they want to see it.”

“It is so much faster and easier for patients to receive and share images,” said Pinfold. “Many devices no longer have CD drives, and IEP with Anyone allows us to send images much more quickly through a secure electronic transfer trusted in the NHS, compared to the five days, or even longer, that it can take to post two encrypted CDs and a password in separate jiffy bags.”

Jane Rendall, managing director for Sectra in the UK and Ireland, the company which manages the Image Exchange Portal for the NHS, said: “Physical media is going out of fashion. The NHS needs to provide information in a way that is accessible, fast, easy and secure. This extension to one of the most widely used networks in the NHS allows that and is already helping thousands of patients each month.”

“IEP with Anyone is an important step in empowering patients, whilst helping to reduce the burden on NHS staff. Confidentiality can also be better protected, and patients can have more control around who sees their information. IEP with Anyone removes the risk of CDs being lost, whilst also providing patients with the means to easily forward imaging to chosen third parties, or trusted family and friends.”

“But whilst more and more patients are starting to benefit, we want this piece of national infrastructure to help every patient that needs their imaging. We have been listening to NHS staff in the way they use this technology to enhance it further, and an even easier to use version will be available to every hospital and their patients from February 2019.”

Patients are given access to IEP with Anyone by their hospital through a secure log-in. Their imaging remains in the portal for up to 60 days, depending on trust processes, during which time they can use forwarding features to easily share with trusted third parties, who can view dynamic image sets from a secure link.