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COVID BEAM: Part of the NIMIS Response to COVID-19

Nimis-Logo-2021                                                                                                          Beam-logo-2021


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the HSE established arrangements with the Private hospitals to provide services to public patients. Diagnostic imaging was a key part of this and the National Integrated Medical Imaging System (NIMIS) Programme was tasked with providing a bidirectional electronic solution to safely and securely transfer images and reports between the NIMIS, Non NIMIS Public and Private hospitals to facilitate this essential service.


The electronic solution introduced was BEAM.


COVID Imaging Requirements

With such a significant increase in outsourcing of diagnostic exams as part of the COVID-19 emergency response, BEAM allows a patient’s pertinent prior images and reports to be transferred to the relevant hospital system in a speedy and efficient manner when required. This allows the outsourced imaging to be undertaken and completed with full context of the patient’s imaging history.  The resultant imaging records produced in the Private hospital can subsequently be transferred back to the Public system at a clinically appropriate time.


What is BEAM?

BEAM is an image record sharing solution. It enables the electronic transfer of a patient’s entire imaging record i.e. images, reports and related scanned documents, between facilities.

These can only be transferred between participating BEAM facilities i.e. the sending and receiving sides must have a BEAM gateway. 


How does BEAM work?


  • BEAM uses a secure internet connection to transfer encrypted records via a secure tunnel
  • The records are then decrypted on the receiving side where they are imported into their PACS
  • Both the sending and receiving facilities are in full control of what is sent from and imported into their PACS


OoCIO Interdepartmental and Cross Hospital Cooperation

This project is a prime example of multi-stakeholder cooperation to collaboratively achieve improvements in service delivery in a rapidly changing environment. The NIMIS Programme received valuable support and cooperation from our colleagues in various OoCIO departments as well as locally within the public and private facilities in order to achieve a successful implementation including but not limited to:

  • Local ICT on each NIMIS site
  • Local NIMIS PACS/RIS Managers/Teams
  • HSE Service Introduction
  • Non NIMIS Public Hospital colleagues
  • Private Hospital colleagues
  • Change Healthcare (vendor)
  • OneMed Net (vendor)


Rollout Methodology:

A rapid rollout method was required in response to the COVID-19 requirements. The NIMIS Programme National Team undertook initial centralised testing followed by a phased rollout approach for the NIMIS hospitals grouping them into 4 phases.

Each of the first 3 phases consisted of quite an aggressive 1 week implementation timeline as these sites had urgent outsourcing dependencies. Phase 4 was split into 2 groups to incorporate the remaining hospitals.

In parallel, central testing was performed with each of the corresponding private sites involved in the outsourcing arrangements to agree workflow requirements.

Once the NIMIS hospitals went live the Non NIMIS Public hospitals began their projects.


Benefits of BEAM during COVID-19:

  • Swift, secure and auditable electronic image record transfer between sites
  • Facilitates the continuity of care for patients who transfer between NIMIS and Non NIMIS sites for assessment and treatment
  • Reduction in the requirement for repeat examinations as patients transfer between sites
  • Allows for the ease of transfer of key imaging records between Public and Private facilities
  • Streamlines workflow in an already stressful environment
  • Frees up key resource time during the pandemic
  • Facilitates increased patient transfers and bed turnover, which is critical to each hospitals ability to meet its COVID-19 commitments
  • Improved patient experience and management in an unsettled time
  • Reduced turnaround times
  • Reduced dependency on CD/DVDs and the associated costs of production, packaging and courier transfer


COVID BEAM Statistics:



The COVID BEAM response has been a major success. The BEAM application has been rolled out to all NIMIS sites and is well underway in the non NIMIS Public and Private Hospitals. It has achieved the core objective of facilitating the rapid bidirectional exchange of images and reports with the private hospitals that have been engaged in diagnostic outsourcing activities. This has greatly improved the clinical end user experience and delivery of patient care.


Additional Resource Links:

Please follow the links below to view:

  1. The OoCIO Lunch and Learn presentation to understand the patient journey and BEAM Lunchtime Presentation
  2. The media article published: A Sharper Image; New Diagnostic Sharing Forged in a Pandemic in the Sunday Business Post, Rad Magazine and other social media outlets