The Clinical Services Department (CSD) at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) in collaboration with Worldwide Radiology-UK successfully delivered its first remote clinical X-ray meeting with a radiologist in the UK this March.
This initiative is part of the CSD’s routine monthly meetings, where about 30 nurses, doctors and medical students convene for clinical X-ray meetings to discuss X-rays and scans of patients whose diagnosis may not be clear, as well as other critical cases. Prior to the Unit’s collaboration with Worldwide Radiology-UK, there was no radiologist available to support this meeting and the images were usually reviewed by the CSD team. Whilst they all have some experience of interpreting X-ray images, they were not specialists and worried that they were missing important findings.
The core aim of these remote expert clinical consultations is to improve patient care not only through education, but also through direct clinical support to medical teams.
Dr Karen Forrest, the Head of the CSD at the MRCG at LSHTM highlighted the significance of the collaboration saying, “The introduction of a secure online teleradiology system allows us to discuss with an expert radiologist who can then demonstrate abnormal findings to us and help us learn for the next case. Over time, this collaboration will help us to improve the quality of care we offer to our patients.”
Dr Elizabeth Joekes is a Consultant Radiologist with a special interest in tropical and infectious diseases and is also a Co-Founder of the charity Worldwide Radiology.
She commented, “It may look simple, sharing some images online, but it is totally different from remote teaching or sharing photos in an online presentation. To discuss the clinical care of patients, it is vital that all their personal information is held, transferred and accessed via a secure platform and that the whole process is in line with legal and professional requirements and properly monitored. This is not straightforward to set up, even within countries like the UK and with plenty of funding available. It is much harder if funds are limited and regulation is less well developed.”
She further commended the efforts of collaborators and partners, adding “Getting to this point has been a real team effort with many volunteers giving their time and expertise. A heartfelt thanks also goes to the team at Collective Minds who share our ambitions for wider radiology access and who provide us with the platform and technical support to allow us to deliver this valuable service to our colleagues in the field. Thanks to this collaborative effort we are now able to offer the team in The Gambia remote expert clinical consultations when needed”
As part of the collaboration, Worldwide Radiology-UK sent Dr Ed Lightfoot as a volunteer in The Gambia to improve access to imaging in the country. His placement in the Unit is the first one organised by Worldwide Radiology.
The Clinical Services Department at the MRCG at LSHTM provides general medical and paediatric care to staff of the Unit, research study participants and members of the public. In 2021, the doctors at the CSD saw 7,792 individuals, in 21,316 consultations and 1,046 admissions to the ward. The team is supported by a medical imaging department staffed by radiographers and assistants, and providing plain film imaging and ultrasound services.
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