Dr Thomas Constantine, director of Coastal Medical Imaging, explains how OpenRad Cloud is helping tackle elective care backlogs in Wales/UK and provide fast access to diagnostics. Instant referrals and remote access are just two of the advantages of OpenRad Cloud. Read more below.
📖 Author: Dr Thomas Constantine | Coastal Medical Imaging, UK
I grew up in the small tight-knit community of Colwyn Bay in North Wales and my parents, grandparents and a lot of my school friends still live there.
There are elective care backlogs all across the UK, but in North Wales the problem is especially acute. The local wait for public services for non-obstetric ultrasound (NOUS) can be anywhere between 14 weeks and eight months. If any of my friends or family got sick and needed some form of diagnostics, I wanted them to have access to a service that could deliver that quickly.
That was what inspired me to set up Coastal Medical Imaging to provide NOUS on a self-funding basis. We had a vision of working with the public system to bring backlogs across the North-West down by adding capacity.
A cloud-based solution
My background is as an accident and emergency (A&E) middle grade trained in the UK, but I spent six years working in Australia. I witnessed how quickly patients could access ultrasound, CT and MRI scans there.
When I set up Coastal Medical Imaging, I didn’t just want to offer our sonographers a piece of paper and a pen to do their reporting. I’d used a cloud-based service in Australia and was looking for something similar in the UK. OpenRad’s domestic cloud platform was the ideal solution.
We’re a small clinic with big growth aspirations and OpenRad was able to provide us with a full hospital-grade solution including e-referral that suited our budget. That’s been huge for us because it stands us in good stead when we talk to the local NHS and makes integration a lot easier.
We’re trying to provide the best patient care we can and part of that is displaying the software packages we use. OpenRad Cloud adds to our credibility and shows we care about the service we’re delivering.
Instant referrals—how it works
The system alerts us with a ping when we get a referral. We put the patient’s details into the Radiology Information System (RIS), and they’re sent straight to our ultrasound machine. Once the patient has seen us, the images are instantly sent through to our workstation.
When the sonographer clicks verify on the e-referral portal, the clinician gets the report back immediately. This means they can access the results quickly, rather than having to wait for an email to come through or send something in the post, which unfortunately is what the local system currently does.
Local GPs and physiotherapists love the e-referral system of OpenRad Cloud because it enables them to easily send their patients to us. As soon as they log-in, all the details are pre-populated. It takes about 30 seconds to send the referral across and once we’ve completed the appointment, we send them a courtesy email.
They can log-in whether they’re in the clinic or at home to look at images, reports or send reports if they need to. That’s something the clinicians we’re working with have really got on board with.
OpenRad Cloud also allows us to download a PDF report to send across. The fact that we’re able to transfer all the patient details across from referral, to RIS, to machine, to computer means that we can process patients quickly. We’re not having to spend the morning populating our lists—it all happens seamlessly.
Remote access—work from home anywhere
Although Coastal Medical Imaging is in North Wales, I can access OpenRad Cloud wherever I am, so if there are reports that need to be sent back to referrers I can log in and dispatch them manually through our secure email without having to be in the office.
I can also take phone calls from patients, take referrals, and put the relevant information onto the RIS. I don’t need to be in the clinic to populate all of that information. It would be impossible to run this company from such a remote location without being able to do that.
It’s not cost effective for us to hire a radiologist because only 5% of scans typically go to them. OpenRad introduced us to another party and set up a gateway so we can send images and reports through OpenRad Cloud to get a second opinion from a radiologist if required. This could only have been enabled on the cost-effective basis that we’ve set up using OpenRad Cloud. The transfer of images is seamless.
Making a difference to patients
We don’t ever want to find pathology, but when we do, we like to know that we’ve been a part of progressing the patient along their diagnostic pathway to get to treatment quicker. Although we can’t do anything about surgical waiting lists or how quickly they can access medical review, we can provide fast access to diagnostics.
We’ve had patients referred to us at 3 p.m., have their scan at 6 p.m. and got their report back with the referring clinician by the next morning. There’s a 24-hour turnaround in some cases.
Fast access to diagnostics
If we see someone who has been on the waiting list for eight months and we find a significant pathology, we’ve succeeded in what we’re doing—because we will have made a difference to that patient’s outcome.
As a clinician, it’s incredibly important to know that we’re making a difference to the patients we set out to help. That’s why we started this company, and we couldn’t provide that service without OpenRad Cloud.
About the author
Dr Thomas Constantine
A&E Doctor & Director at Coastal Medical Imaging
University of Liverpool graduate with experience of healthcare systems in Australia and the UK. Tom returned to his roots in North Wales to set up Coastal Medical Imaging, a diagnostic imaging company based in Colwyn Bay, North Wales with the aim of improving access and cutting waiting times for patients across North Wales.