Connectivity solution for NHS Breast Screening Mobile Units

The NHS offers free breast imaging to women aged 50-70 to increase the chance of early detection of breast cancers. Latest research indicates that women choosing to participate in the programme had a 60% lower risk of dying from the disease within 10 years after diagnosis.

The use of mobile screening trailers makes the process more convenient for patients but poses some logistical issues for the Trust in terms of being able to securely transfer images and client data between the trailer and the central hospital site.

The Situation

Connectivity for breast screening programmeNHS Breast Screening Services operate trailers, which move around to various locations and provide accessible screening throughout the country. The trailers are fitted with radiography equipment, allowing mammograms to be quickly and easily performed as part of the screening process. Once image acquisition is complete, the images must then be transferred from the trailer back to the main hospital site for assessment and diagnosis. Traditionally, this transfer has been completed by the manual upload of images onto an external hard drive, which can then be sent via courier to the main hospital, but this process has drawbacks. The use of third-party drivers to transfer patient images and paper worklists can be expensive and increases vulnerability to information governance breaches.

In addition to this, the traditional setup does not allow for real-time updating of worklists or access to the NBSS, leading to a high level of administration for the radiographers working on the trailers. It can also lead to complications when patients fail to arrive or arrive at the wrong time for their appointment. Any alterations of demographics must also be noted down and changed in the central system at a later date, which also has the potential for further errors.

Visbion Solution

Breast screening connectivity VisbionVisbion have developed a bespoke Breast Screening Image Transfer solution. It enables the lossless transfer of compressed, encrypted DICOM images across 3G/4G networks safely and efficiently. Alongside this, they have incorporated the functionality to allow the staff on the trailer to access the NBSS and real-time worklists. All images are sent using AES-256 encryption to ensure security. A VPN connection across the NHS N3 network is used to create a secure connection between the Trust and the Visbion Data Centre.

NBSS; breast screening service; image routing; NHS

The solution comes as a managed service and is made up of a series of standard parts that can be easily installed onto any trailer. The Visbion Image Cube hardware can be positioned in an unobtrusive area and works in the background. If the trailer is moved to a new location, the system will automatically start sending with no need for complicated recalibrations. This means that there is no need for input from the staff on the trailer. Any issues that do arise will be detected and dealt with by the experienced Visbion support team as part of the service provided.

In conjunction with the standard image routing connection, live NBSS worklists can be viewed, providing real-time updates of appointments when there are cancellations or changes and allowing the staff on the mobile screening unit to make live changes to the system from their end. In addition, the imaging modality can be configured to show only the patients booked for that location rather than all mobile screening sites, providing a more efficient workflow.


The benefits of this image service can be seen by Trusts immediately; in terms of efficiency and data security. By negating the need for transfer of images via a courier and allowing free access to the NBSS, the Visbion service has led to the following improvements being realised:

  • Information governance is improved by removing the need for third party drivers/couriers
  • Real time updates to worklists leads to a reduction in patient demographic errors and promotes efficiency
  • Flexible hours of operation made possible by removing the time constraints of transferring paper and storage media via couriers
  • The system will continue to send overnight, allowing all images to be available for reporting by the following day
  • Promotion of an efficient, paperlite environment where staff can focus on clinical rather than administrative duties
  • The Visbion Image Cube is designed to run in the background, making it very unobtrusive

In particular, the speed of the image forwarding meaning that images are reliably available for reporting 24 hours after scanning. This enables clinicians to read and report on the images and provide results to patients quickly and efficiently.

For further information on Visbion image management solutions, get in touch