Two west London hospitals, St Mary’s Paediatric A&E, Paddington, and Chelsea & Westminister’s specialist burns unit, have developed an electronic image-sharing link that replaces the old system of doctors describing patients’ injuries over the phone.

A large JPEG of the patient’s injury is taken over a digital camera and uploaded to the software. The image is then placed on a secure patient record server for health professionals at both sides of the link to view, discuss and annotate.

The software is a component of ComMedia PACS, and consists of a PACS image viewer and a web-based patient record.

Ian Maconochie, paediatric A&E consultant at St Mary’s, said: “The system will allow a more informed dialogue… Digital technology, and this web-based software, puts the real evidence in front of specialists’ eyes sooner. The specialist can send back a detailed report to use in a shorter period of time."

Simon Myers, lead consultant in burns at Chelsea and Westminister Hospital, said: "The new equipment will mean that patients receive the most appropriate care quicker than ever before… we will be able to give more detailed diagnoses of a patient’s condition to our colleagues at St Mary’s than we could when relying on verbal descriptions.

“This advancement means that we can now offer more specific care suggestions to staff at St Mary’s paediatric A&E."

Users are also able to view patient history and treatment on the record. The system is fully compliant with the NPfIT’s standards for electronic patient records, and integrates with other hospital information systems such as HIS/RIS via HL7 and XML standards.

A spokesperson for ComMedica told E-Health Insider that the system, once installed, could also be used in a number of different departments within St Mary’s.

Dr Volker Krause, senior house officer at the St Mary’s paediatric A&E, agreed: “We hope to extend the technology to other areas. Two examples where this might happen are in dermatology, and for referring ophthalmology injuries to the Western Eye Hospital within our trust group."

St Mary’s paediatric A&E receives on average around 200 cases of burns and lacerations per year.