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On December 16, 2010

IMS MAXIMS Order Communications System transforms radiology examinations for 150,000 patients a year

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has introduced a computerised system which cuts the time it takes to order x-rays or scans from days to seconds. The IMS MAXIMS Order Communications Systems (OCS) will be used by around 800 staff, across a dozen sites on the mainland and the Isles of Scilly, to order around 150,000 radiology examinations each year. It will dramatically cut the number of errors, which affected up to one in ten test requests on the old paper-based system.

Radiology tests are carried out at each of the acute trust’s three main hospitals, the Royal Cornwall, West Cornwall and St Michael’s, and a number of community hospitals. The size and rural nature of Cornwall meant it could take several days for an order to pass through the internal post to the right person. Problems such as incomplete information or poor handwriting meant that more time was often spent contacting clinicians to check exactly what they wanted.

The IMS MAXIMS OCS is a quick and easy-to-use electronic solution which ensures that all the necessary information has been entered before an order is placed. Clinicians can choose between 800 possible tests and give precise details of the view they want. This will reduce the need for patients to make a repeat visit because the scan or x-ray failed to show exactly what the clinician needed to see.

Dr Simon Thorogood, consultant radiologist and Senior Lead in Clinical Health Informatics, said: “The new system brings real benefits for patients because their tests can be carried out sooner and there is much less chance of errors or duplication. Handwritten request cards could take days to be processed, but now it is all done straight away.”

“Our clinicians like the system because they have had a lot of input into its development, so it works in just the way they want it to. It allows them to be highly specific about the view they want of a patient – something that has been particularly popular with our orthopaedic surgeons. Another big advantage of the IMS MAXIMS OCS is that it reduces the amount of administration. A lot of staff time used to be spent tidying up information to make sure everything was right.”

“One of the most important aspects of this project has been the sense of partnership there has been with IMS MAXIMS. They worked with us closely to make sure that the system was configured in exactly the way our clinicians wanted,” Thorogood adds.

Once a test has been carried out the clinicians are able to read a report on-screen. In future they will also be able to call up the scan or x-ray image. The IMS MAXIMS OCS is also being piloted for pathology tests, with similar benefits expected once it is rolled out.

To make test ordering even quicker the trust has placed around 60 CoWs (computers on wheels) on hospital wards. This means that when physicians are doing their rounds they can order a test while they are at the patient’s bedside – further speeding up the process.

IMS MAXIMS designed the OCS to be highly functional – allowing orders to be placed for any registered patient. It was originally intended for radiology and pathology but readily extends to other specialties such as cardiology and endoscopy. Among the many advantages is its flexibility, allowing authorised users to access the system, through a secure portal, from any location. The OCS can lead to cost savings by cutting the number of inappropriate or unnecessary tests.

Shane Tickell, IMS MAXIMS CEO, said: “The Cornwall project shows how world-class clinical IT can help improve patient services. It also proves the importance of having IT solutions and suppliers which adapt to the needs of their clients.”

“The size and rural character of Cornwall means its health service has its own specific requirements, not least because the population can double during the summer holiday season, creating a huge upsurge in demand for services. By working closely with the trust we were able to provide it with a tailored solution that suited its needs and workload.”


Susan Venables, Highland Marketing
Phone: +44 (0) 1877 384739, Mobile: +44 (0) 7971 166936

  • Dr Simon Thorogood, OCS, Royal Cornwall


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