The University of Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre has successfully deployed BridgeHead’s Independent Clinical Archive, HealthStore®, to enable its scientists and clinicians to securely access and collaborate on research images anywhere in the world.
The University of Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre, a world-leading clinical research facility, has implemented BridgeHead Software’s Independent Clinical Archive, HealthStore®, to consolidate, store and protect its research data. Once ingested into HealthStore, geographically dispersed virtual teams can access, view and collaborate, in real-time, using the images and data to carry out their life-changing research. By aggregating research data within HealthStore, the Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre is effectively eliminating data silos whilst providing robust data protection to mitigate the impact of accidental data loss, corruption or cyber-attack.
The University’s Biomedical Imaging Centre invests in state-of-the art technology
The University of Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre is undertaking an organisation-wide digital transformation program. This includes moving towards a paperless environment as well as ensuring all of its IT systems and infrastructure meet the highest security standards. The Biomedical Imaging Centre had a clear vision for what is needed to retain its status as one of the world’s leading authorities in biomedical imaging. It is investing in state-of-the-art technology to build and update systems across the centre. This encompasses the upgrade of its current imaging facility; design of a purpose-built, next generation, clinical research MRI scanner; and a best-of-breed Enterprise Imaging solution, featuring vendor neutral archive (VNA), viewing and remote collaboration capabilities.
As Doctor Gordon Waiter, Reader and Director of the University of Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre explains: “The University of Aberdeen is proud of its status as a globally recognised Centre of Excellence for medical imaging. These investments will not only help us to remain a leader in our field, but also enables us to address some specific issues that would improve the quality of the work we do. For example, the construction of the next generation MRI scanner will provide our researchers and clinicians with more detailed information than ever before.”
Doctor Waiter continues, “Our new scanner will significantly bolster the size and volume of data we produce. However, as the fidelity, quality and sheer number of medical images increases, so does the complexity in managing that data. We needed a comprehensive Enterprise Imaging solution, with robust data management capabilities, that could help us move away from our legacy, manual processes to better store and protect our research data. Furthermore, we needed to make this data available beyond the walls of our centre – especially at a time where more and more people are working remotely. The vision was to have all of our research data in one place, accessible to our wide network of clinicians and scientists, to view and collaborate regardless of where they are located.”
The search for an Enterprise Imaging solution
The University of Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre started looking for an Enterprise Imaging solution back in June 2019. The department had a number of specific requirements when considering the available options in the market. The Centre’s clinical research is conducted by groups of scientists and clinicians from across the globe. As a result, the Enterprise Imaging solution needed to offer an easy-to-use interface allowing users to quickly search and retrieve the imaging data they require. These images would be presented in a diagnostic grade viewer, accessible by the department’s geographically dispersed team members, who would then be able to analyse and collaborate, in real-time. This is similar in operation to the workings of a virtual multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in a more traditional care setting.
In order to achieve these requirements, the Enterprise Imaging solution had to support healthcare imaging data standards. In addition, the application also needed to provide an efficient, intelligent, and future-proof data management layer to consolidate, store and protect existing and new images from across the department, with the flexibility to integrate with new modalities and systems as they are implemented.
BridgeHead’s HealthStore® solution selected for Enterprise Imaging
After a rigorous procurement process, the Biomedical Imaging Centre selected BridgeHead Software’s Independent Clinical Archive (ICA), HealthStore®.
“We chose BridgeHead’s HealthStore® as our Enterprise Imaging solution of choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, HealthStore provides a central repository specifically designed for healthcare data. Not only will we be able to take advantage of HealthStore’s VNA capabilities for our DICOM and non-DICOM medical image management, but we can also house other data, such as PDFs of scanned paper notes,” explained Dr Gordon Waiter. “Furthermore, and critical for our department, the BridgeHead solution enables us to easily access and analyse our clinical research data from anywhere in the world, on any approved device – all we need is an internet connection and the appropriate permissions. As our collaborators are spread across the globe, HealthStore enables the team to collectively view medical images and collaborate.”
Given the University of Aberdeen’s incredibly high standards when it comes to its IT infrastructure, especially in relation to security; robust data protection was another key requirement. As Dr Waiter expands, “Privacy and security of our research data is imperative. BridgeHead has over 25 years of experience in managing healthcare data of all kinds. When it comes to data protection, there are few, if any, other vendors that have the depth of experience in safeguarding clinical information. This gave us peace of mind that certainly contributed to our decision.”
Dr Waiter was also keen to highlight the importance of domain knowledge and industry experience during vendor selection, explaining, “Quite early in the process, I was able to have a detailed technical conversation with the BridgeHead team about our Enterprise Imaging requirements. It was important to the centre that the vendor we chose really understood our needs as a highly specialised research organisation. BridgeHead proved this throughout the sales process, clearly demonstrating their expertise in the medical imaging space.”
Enterprise Imaging project enjoys smooth roll out
Although the BridgeHead Professional Services team has a lot of experience deploying HealthStore within University and Teaching Hospitals, delivering an Enterprise Imaging solution in an educational and research facility was new territory. This required a truly collaborative approach between BridgeHead and the University of Aberdeen. And, to complicate matters, the teams also had to contend with the changing circumstances arising from the Coronavirus global pandemic. As BridgeHead’s Director of Global Services, Rob Huff, explained, “It was critical to the success of the project that both teams at BridgeHead and the University of Aberdeen form a close working partnership. Despite the emergence of COVID-19, and the subsequent restrictions that unfolded, I’m delighted with how both teams adapted to the situation. Together, we were able to successfully implement HealthStore for the Biomedical Imaging department. We’ve also had great feedback following the training we provided; with many of the users saying how easy they found the solution to use”.
Commenting on BridgeHead’s implementation of HealthStore, Dr Waiter stated, “It’s been a really positive experience working with BridgeHead on this project. At the Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre, we recognise that as a research-focused organisation, we have a different view of the world and, thereby, different requirements compared to a hospital. For example, we needed a system that could scan, collect and analyse a cross-section of data from both NHS and private patients and research participants. The BridgeHead Professional Services team made it their job to understand our operations and workflows in order to ensure they delivered HealthStore to best effect, configured specifically for our needs. We enjoyed a strong relationship throughout the entire project.”
How BridgeHead’s HealthStore is now helping Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre
BridgeHead’s HealthStore® has now been live at the University of Aberdeen’s Biomedical Imaging Centre for 18 months. Since its inception, the solution has provided a range of benefits for the department. As Dr Waiter explains, “Before HealthStore, we had to contend with inefficient, manual processes in order to conduct our research. For example, a member of staff would have to be onsite and retrieve, then mount, research images stored on physical media. Now, with HealthStore, we have been able to move to fully digitised workflows. This not only saves a considerable amount of time, but also reduces risk. Although our modalities still retain our most recent scans, all of our imaging data is automatically ingested into HealthStore, where it is fully protected – so we no longer have to worry about data corruption, accidental deletion or hardware failures.”
HealthStore now allows the Biomedical Imaging Department to curate and connect participants’ imaging data based on their Community Health Index (CHI) number, enabling researchers to access a complete view of an individual. Clinicians and scientists are now able to inform the appropriate healthcare professionals should they discover abnormalities during the course of their analysis that require further investigation.
Dr Waiter continues, “The benefits that HealthStore has provided to date are significant. Our staff are delighted with how easy it is to access, view and remotely collaborate with colleagues on our research data. This has been crucial while the teams have been in ‘lockdown’, enabling us to continue our work though many of us have been at home. There have even been examples where our radiographers have highlighted issues they have found on an image where I have then been able to log in to HealthStore, remotely, and advise as necessary.”
What does the future hold for the Biomedical Imaging Centre?
As a team that is continuously looking at innovations to better understand how technology can be leveraged to detect and study disease, the Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre is already looking at additional ways HealthStore can support its vision. Dr Waiter comments, “What is clear to us in the centre is that by implementing BridgeHead’s best-of-breed Enterprise Imaging solution, HealthStore, we will build a better understanding of the important health challenges facing society today. This enables us to continue leading the way to new discoveries that will have a transformational impact on medicine and the delivery of healthcare.”
As the University continues its move to a paperless operating model, it is also keen to explore how BridgeHead and its solutions might help in its wider digital transformation journey.