Birmingham Dental Hospital has signed a five-year contract to implement Agfa HealthCare’s Enterprise Imaging unified management platform.

The hospital, which is also home to the University of Birmingham’s school of dentistry, is part of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust. It handles approximately 115,000 consultations each year.

Previously the hospital had been using SIDEXiS, a specialist dental system, to store images, and had separate software in place to manipulate images.

A planned move to new premises in September 2015 prompted a decision to upgrade to a new PACS that would be able to store both 3D and 2D images and include image-manipulation functionality.

The procurement process, carried out via the NHS Supply Chain framework, began last October.  Martyn Langford, IT project manager, said: "we ended up going to market following about three years of research while waiting for funding. So by the time we got to that point, we'd already spoken to Agfa and a couple of companies to see what they offer as part of the business case.”

The Agfa solution, which combines a picture archiving and communications system and radiology information system, was particularly easy to use, said Langford.

“It had a much simpler task-orientated approach, dependent on the role the user has, so there weren't windows popping up all over the place.  It has an integrated database-level PACS and RIS, all wrapped up nicely into a package that makes it very user-friendly.”

A combined PACS and RIS was essential.

“Keeping things separate and then having to go through integration between the two isn't something you need to do these days, so we were looking to future-proof with the newest technology we could find, and that was Agfa,” he added.

The plan is to go live with the Agfa system at the end of October. There will be a partial migration of the existing images, said Langford.

Agfa’s XERO Viewer will be used to share images both inside and outside the hospital.

“At the moment, other trusts don't have access to our images within SIDEXIS unless we physically export them and then email them, which is quite a long and drawn-out process, or we send an encrypted CD out to people,” said Langford.

“Very soon, we can give access to the XERO client viewer to other trusts that have PACS, so they can view our images and specific reports, or we can become part of the Image Exchange Portal, so we will be able to request and send images very easily.”