Hanoi hospital pioneers switch from radiographic film to digital

By Thuy Quynh   October 16, 2019 | 05:31 pm PT
Hanoi hospital pioneers switch from radiographic film to digital
Doctors at Friendship Hospital in Hanoi observe a brain scanning image to give diagnosis. Photo by VnExpress/Huong Thuy.
A Hanoi hospital has become the country's first to do away with radiographic films and switch to storing the data digitally.

Plastic films produced by imaging tools such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are no longer provided at Friendship Hospital.

One of the few hospitals running a pilot project on the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) launched by the Ministry of Health, it is the first to load all images to its computer system and use the data as material for treatment.

On October 8 a 72-year-old man was admitted to the hospital with a stroke.

He got cerebrovascular MRI and CT scans done, and within seconds the images appeared on a computer screen and were transferred to a room where a group of doctors sit to make a diagnosis and decide what to do next.

Using this method, the hospital is able to cut the time required for printing the films and transferring them to doctors.

Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of the hospital's diagnostic imaging department, said it is vital to diagnose a stroke patient within the first six hours, which greatly increases the chance of saving them.

"So the sooner doctors have the cerebrovascular scan images in their hands for diagnosis, the better."

Most hospitals in Vietnam use plastic films for diagnosis.

There have been cases of the film or diagnosis result getting lost or mismatched in the store, but letting patients keep the films has not proven to be a good idea either since the films need to be preserved in a certain way and have a short shelf life otherwise.

In many cases, they are scratched when held by patients and rendered useless.  

Besides the cost of printing and storing plastic films is high for hospitals. Thanks to the new digital method, Friendship Hospital saves over VND1 billion ($43,000) on just this every year.

Dung of Friendship Hospital said the digital system, which directly captures data during a patient’s examination and immediately transfers it to the computer, enables doctors to see them wherever they are.

"Everything is stored in the computer and can be used anytime they are needed. And with complicated cases, it takes us just seconds to send those results to experts in other countries to seek consultation."

The use of this technology also makes it easy and quick for doctors to compare patients’ scan images before and after treatment, he said.

It also helps decrease the negative impacts on the environment as it cuts the amount of plastic used for printing and the chemicals used for developing films, he said.

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