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Northern Ireland Picture Archive and Communication System (NIPACS+)

The NIPACS+ Programme builds on 14 years of work of the original NIPACS initiative, that has allowed Northern Ireland to digitise and connect its Radiology and Digital Pathology services.

NIPACS+ will be a regional system which will enable every trust across Northern Ireland to access imaging, enhance care, improve patient safety and support timely diagnoses for patients.

Led by the HSC Business Services Organisation (BSO), the Programme will enable the Health and Social Care service in Northern Ireland to transform how diagnostic services are delivered, as it will bring together millions of crucial digital patient images into a single system. To manage the implementation of NIPACS+, the programme is deploying in two Phases.

Phase 1 is the Implementation of Radiology Regionally and the existing NIPACS Services which includes a major technical refresh of the regional data centre, regional network infrastructure and the implementation of local Business Continuity at Trust locations.
The Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), currently planned for early 2024, will be the final site for Phase 1 of the NIPACS+ Programme, meaning all Radiology and Digital Pathology services across the region will have a single point of access to imaging.

Phase 2 is the Implementation of the Additional Imaging Specialties (AIS). This will enable Northern Ireland’s healthcare professionals to access and interact with patient images from a wide range of disciplines, including Cardiology, Oncology, Obstetrics, Endoscopy, Medical Photography, Nuclear Medicine, Dental and Ophthalmology. Each Trust will be implemented in tandem with the encompass Programme for AIS.

In November, the Programme achieved its first Phase 2 Go-Live for Additional Imaging Specialties (AIS). Cardiology, Obstetrics, Endoscopy, Dental and Medical Photography are successfully storing imaging and utilising NIPACS+. The Programme are working with encompass in relation to an optimisation phase for these AIS to ensure they are utilising NIPACS+ to its full potential.

Andrew Hamilton, Consultant Cardiologist at SEHSCT provides some insight into how the implementation has gone (November 2023)

“The implementation of NIPACS+ for additional imaging specialties and the integration with encompass went really well. Staff can now view the echo videos from encompass during ward rounds by seamlessly clicking through from the report into NIPACS+. It is great that the videos auto play without any further action. This has dramatically improved our ability to view these important images, as previously we had to visit specialist workstations in the echo department, which could be a long walk away. This fantastic access on the ward will enable us to teach the doctors and nurses about the heart in a whole new way.”