Eastman Kodak’s Health Group has been selected as the main supplier of Finland’s RATU e-health project, which aims to integrate the medical imaging and information systems across five Finnish hospital districts.

The €2.7m RATU project focuses on the development of e-health in Northern Finland and is funded by five hospital districts and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. All patient diagnostic images, biosignal and text data from the five hospital disctricts will be stored in a central archive.

RATU, which stands for regional RIS/PACS and eConsultation service in Northern Finland, is intended to provide a pilot for the whole of Finland, aimed at creating a total solution for production, processing and archiving of patient information.

The project will provide a vital step towards the development of a national Finnish central patient record archive intended to store and manage patient information.

Kodak has been selected as the software and systems delivery supplier for the project, with systems integration to be carried out by Finnish IT company, Mawell Ltd.

Ian Marron, director of eHealth Solutions for Kodak Health, told E-Health Insider: "Together we will deliver an integrated community based solution that combines Kodak’s centralised PACS-RIS applications with Mawell’s innovative web based eConsultation portal." The solution will be delivered on a Sun Microsystems platform.

The new digital system will consist of a data centre-driven community Radiology Information System (RIS), archiving and web viewing for the whole region. The system will centralise patient information while improving information sharing and workflow with the goal of enhancing patient care.

Kodak will provide a community radiology solution that includes its RIS 2010, its PACS System 5 web clients and its Carestream Information Management Solution. Each of the solutions will be powered by Kodak’s Versatile Intelligent Patient Archive (VIParchive) software—to efficiently manage medical images and related patient information.

With the RATU project, the hospital districts’ appointment bookings, consultations and x-rays can be transferred using a centralized system. The first phase of the project is due to be completed during the first quarter of 2006, when all the Northern region’s central hospitals and four pilot health care centers will be connected.

Using the new centralised system, initial participating hospitals and all healthcare centers that later join the initiative will able to store, download and view patient images.

A key part of the project is the ‘Lausuntotori’ portal, allowing inter-regional delivery and consultation of x-ray images over the Internet. The portal will enable clinicians to carry out consultations over the Internet, and provide a secure forum for specialists in the region to view and consult patient images, irrespective of their location.

Marron told E-Health Insider that the project will deliver services that enable a market to develop "in which patient can browse through a virtual directory of care providers and select the most appropriate provider for their needs in terms of services offered, specialities covered and price".

“With RATU phase one, all radiological examination bookings and examination information will be automatically transferred to the right place at the right time," said RATU Project Manager, Kari Alatalo.

He added: "Kodak’s role as the RATU main partner is total system integration, administration and maintenance — including all data center components, servers and software. Of the potential partners, Kodak possessed the most extensive offering, and also topped the list when comparing price and quality”.

“Northern Finland has always been an IT pioneer in Finland. RATU is the largest e-health project in the Nordic countries on a geographical scale. It combines the functionality of the hospital regions’ information systems, improving healthcare information sharing across traditional borders, and thus speeding up the whole treatment process," Pekka Hännikäinen, Kodak Health Group’s country sales manager.

He said the project will create a regional information system, which in the first phase will enable all patient images from the public sector to be collected, and create a system that works both with new and existing hospital systems.

“The system is open and any site can join in a later phase. Our security and connectivity are key advantages. Earlier examples include Kodak’s national projects within the NHS National Programme for IT in UK and Scotland,” said Hännikäinen.

The RATU includes the hospital districts of Lappi, Länsi-Pohja, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, and Keski-Pohjanmaa, as well as Kainuu County. The region consists of 69 health care centers, and will produce over 700,000 exams annually with more than 8000 registered web users and 1000 concurrent users.