University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust is piloting Connect and Share, an extension to Burnbank Systems’ Image Exchange Portal.

Connect and Share is a patient registry based on the XDS data-sharing standard, making it possible to share radiology referrals and reports as well as images. At the moment, radiology documents are often exchanged on a physical format, such as CD.

Until now, the IEP has operated on a ‘push’ model, requiring one trust to send an image so that another trust can receive it.

However, Connect and Share signposts users to the image or document they want to see. Steve Jessop, solutions manager at Burnbank, said: “Connect and Share gives you the ability to view a patient and look at the radiology history of that patient, across all the participating trusts.

“That’s one of the big reasons for going across to the XDS model. You no longer have to duplicate the data across all the trusts; you go back to the data at source.”

Bristol is in the process of populating the registry with data and testing it, but Burnbank expects a number of other trusts in England to be using Connect and Share before Christmas.

Initially, trusts would share data on a regional basis, as there were information governance hurdles to overcome before data could be shared nationally, said Jessop.

Trusts’ picture archiving and communications systems do not have to be XDS-compliant to use the registry, Jessop said.

“Within the data centre, the registry and all the associated bits and pieces are completely XDS-compliant, but we’re using an interface that means that we can connect to non-XDS compliant solutions.”

Steve Gray, clinical systems programme director at University Hospitals Bristol, said that the new system made it simpler to access documents and images at the time they were needed.

“Not all trusts are well set up to serve IEP requests, especially out of hours, which is arguably when they’re of most value. This way we will be able to effectively self-serve to get images that other trusts make available to us.”

Paolo Zanoni, RIS and PACS manager for University Hospital Bristol, said Connect and Share promised to provide “a significant benefit for clinical services at the point of access.”

He added: “It’s about the immediacy of support for the patient for a much greater group of clinicians. It begins to stitch the patient record together at the point of access. We’re taking barriers out of people’s way in a way perhaps we haven’t been able to do so before.”

The use of a standards-based solution meant that trusts would be able to “remain almost aloof to any fashions that are driving the market at any one time,” said Zanoni.

“It also insulates us a little bit from local changes in technology because everyone moves at different speeds, and if people want the freedom to put best-of-breed solutions into their organisation at their own pace, they can do.”