Pioneering software set to improve NHS imaging services across north west London

Imperial College Healthcare is one of six NHS trusts in north west London that have formed a new network to improve imaging services – including x-ray, MRI and CT scans – to enable better care for cancer, stroke and a wide range of other conditions. Their first collaboration involves a £5.7 million investment in a novel software technology that will allow clinicians across the network’s hospitals to share images and report on them rapidly.

The new software is funded partly through the National Cancer Transformation Fund via RM Partners, the west London Cancer Alliance hosted by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The development will support more collaborative working, improving care for patients by speeding up reporting and decision-making and eliminating unnecessary duplication of scans. It is also anticipated to more than cover its investment through reduced duplication and image transfer costs.

While images can already be shared between the network’s hospitals, the current system is both difficult to use and transfers only partial information. A key benefit of the new software is that it will sit on top of the hospitals’ own imaging management systems – called radiology information systems (RIS) and picture archive and communication systems (PACS) – which will facilitate a fast and simple implementation.

The six NHS trusts involved are:

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • London North West University Healthcare NHs Trust
  • Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Amrish Mehta, clinical director for imaging at Imperial College Healthcare and clinical co-director for the North West London Imaging Network said: “Health needs are changing and clinical knowledge is expanding. We need to make it easier and quicker for people to have a scan when they need one, to help with a diagnosis or to check on the impact of treatment. We also need to find smarter ways of responding to the growing demand for imaging services. Our new network is committed to working collaboratively to respond to these challenges and opportunities. This first step is a really important one.”

The software selected to support the new digital platform – Share+ – will be provided by UK and Australia-based Soliton IT. The company has considerable experience of sharing and controlling data between healthcare organisations.