In 2008, the HSE initiated a programme called NIMIS: National Integrated Medical Imaging System, to capture and store Radiology, Cardiology and other diagnostic images electronically. The HSE’s ambitious vision was to modernise the delivery of Diagnostic Imaging services throughout Ireland’s Public Healthcare System; specifically how diagnostic imaging and reporting was transacted across the country. Following an award winning procurement process, McKesson were selected as the preferred vendor in 2010. Sligo Regional Hospital was the first site to go live with the system on 21st June 2011.
All public hospitals using NIMIS are connected on a single imaging platform to enable closer collaboration between clinicians, particularly those in more remote locations. It allows the secure, electronic sharing of images between specialists for faster and improved diagnosis and therefore improves patient experience and care for all.
When fully live, NIMIS will support 36,000 medical users at over 60 locations; will store over 3.5 million studies per year on an infrastructure with over 1,000 medical device workstations.
All contracted hospitals are connected through the National Health Network (NHN). The deployment includes medical device imaging workstations, Radiology Information System (RIS), Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS), Voice Recognition Systems, and other third party systems.
This solution now makes NIMIS one of the world’s largest implementations of a fully resilient national image repository.
Main goals and aims of the Project:
At the outset of the project, there were 52 hospitals in the health service, of which 37 used traditional film and paper based radiology and 15 sites using electronic picture archiving communication system (PACS). None of the 15 PACS sites could communicate with each other, so in most cases taxis and couriers were the only way to transport urgent images between hospitals and specialist tertiary centres.
The project has a number of overarching aims. These are;
- The installation of a PACS/RIS solution to deliver a filmless solution for Radiology imaging in each hospital that did not have such.
- To deliver a paperlite solution for Radiology including ordering and result reporting.
- To integrate all new and existing sites to allow the controlled and rapid movement of patient image data throughout the health service (subject to appropriate security and access controls).
- To deliver on a large range of identified benefits including the ability for remote reporting, removal of film-based risk factors, and the facilitation of more rapid reporting of diagnostic imaging procedures.
- To promote and act as a facilitator to the HSE Transformation Programme.
Confidence in the project continues to grow as sites go live. Successful deployment of the project relies on the continuous review of process around change management, risk and issue management, responsibilities management, continuous communication and reporting as well as the management of the NIMIS implementation in relation to other projects, both national and local. While the NIMIS deployment is still underway, a significant milestone was reached in December 2015 when the last public film based radiology facility, IOH Clontarf, went live with NIMIS.
The successful application of this Business Technology into Ireland’s Public Health System has been truly transformational for the health and welfare of the Irish Population. The word “transformational” holds a lot of gravity because it describes a complete change that has been brought about by an event or in this case an IT programme.
NIMIS today, enables Ireland’s health professionals to collaborate, seamlessly and securely sharing patient imaging data electronically, thus improving the speed and accuracy of clinical decisions.
In the words of Dr. Áine Carroll, National Director Clinical Strategy and Programmes for the HSE; Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin:
“Having NIMIS has transformed our work and really helped us have appropriate fully informed patient centred conversations about care planning and provision. Connected care is better care.”