The Royal College of Radiologists has partnered up with an Irish health technology company to help tackle the backlog.

xWave’s platform will be made available across the UK with the aim of helping to reduce unnecessary scans and wasted appointments, having a positive impact on waiting lists and the workload of clinicians.  

The CDS (Clinical Decision Support) platform allows clinicians to input information about a patient case and then be presented with a ‘next step’ action suggestion in line with the latest evidence-based guidance. This could be a referral for an x-ray, MRI scan, clinic appointment or a self-management plan.  

The digital tool will help clinicians to make the best possible referral decision for each patient, while also supporting hospital-based radiology teams to vet and approve imaging requests more easily. 

xWave CDS has already been deployed across a hospital group in Ireland. This has led to the average referral-to-vetting time dropping to just 14 minutes – a significant improvement on the previous 7.5 working days timescale average. It also saw an overall drop in referral volumes of 8.2%, helping to free up capacity for patients in need. 

xWave has also begun work with GE HealthCare and the East Midlands Imaging Network (EMRAD) – a network of eight NHS trusts – to develop a system to improve the efficiency and consistency of the referral vetting process.  

Oliver Reichardt, CEO of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: “In a recent report published by our team here at the Royal College of Radiologists, 98% of NHS clinical directors expressed concern over workforce morale, stress, and burnout in their departments. 97% admitted to concern over the backlogs and delays to patients care, and 81% cited worries about patient safety.  

“However, evidence shows that Clinical Decision Support software has a really important role to play in reducing unnecessary tests and ensuring the right tests are requested first time. Promoting the adoption of successful technologies like xWave CDS is a crucial step in helping to relieve the very heavy workloads radiologists are facing this autumn.” 

The collaboration was prompted by the government’s £248m investment in digitising diagnostics across the NHS. 

Professor Ronan Killeen, radiologist and clinical director at xWave, said: “We built the xWave CDS to make sure that clinicians have access to the information they need, at the point of care, to make the right referral and vetting decisions. What really matters is that patients get the best test first, and with minimal waiting, and xWave’s partnership with the Royal College of Radiologists is a huge step forward in making this a reality.”