University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust has completed its pilot of Connect and Share, an extension to Burnbank’s Image Exchange Portal, and has now begun a full implementation.

Connect and Share is a web-based patient registry built on the XDS data-sharing standard. As an extension to the IEP, it enables images stored locally by one trust to be accessed from users in other trusts.

While IEP has always operated on a ‘push’ model, in which one trust has to send an image to another on request, Connect and Share signposts authorised users to the image they want to see. As well as sharing images, trusts can use Connect and Share to share radiology referrals and reports.

Steve Jessop, product marketing manager at Sectra, which owns Burnbank, said that Connect and Share will work with any hospital picture archiving and communications system or radiology information system.  

“We don’t rely on the hospital systems to be XDS-compliant. We can put in an interface and work with their standard HL7 and DICOM feed.”

Bristol University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust began its pilot in November last year, and has uploaded all its imaging reports and referrals from the past year.

North Bristol NHS Trust is also part way through a pilot implementation, while Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust is about to begin one.

Jessop said that Connect and Share would be available more widely by the end of next month, and that Burnbank is already in discussion with other trusts in the region. Connect and Share will be offered as a managed service solution, and will also be available through NHS Supply Chain.

Implementation is proving to be very straightforward, said Jessop. “We believe we can do it now in less than three weeks from signing the order to populating the data.”

Although Bristol University Hospitals NHS Foundation had seen efficiency improvements by using Connect and Share, Jessop said, the main benefit had been in patient care.

“There’s a higher chance that the clinician will look at prior history because it’s easier to do. Previously another hospital would have had to let them [the originating trust] know in advance that they needed to see those images and ask for them to be transferred, whereas now they can just click and see them.”

Although initially Connect and Share is being offered on a regional basis, Burnbank believes that it could eventually enable specialist clinicians located elsewhere in the country to access images remotely.