Nuclear medicine portal amends licensing process

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission wants to make life easier for hospitals by allowing them to amend their nuclear medicine licences online.

The portal, launched in August but officially announced on Wednesday,

will help medical centres across the country avoid the paper chase of sending changes through the mail.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa, for example, would have to call the commission and tell it what needed to be amended. Then it would mail a written request and receive a reply weeks later.

“”It’s usually quite a bit of paper. This time everything’s available on the Web, so I can pull it up and fill everything out right there,”” said Scott Walker, hospital supervisor of nuclear medicine.

Nuclear medicine usually refers to the radioisotopes (scan tests using radioactive material) that are injected into a patient to examine specific organ functions. The ability to update the three licences the Children’s Hospital holds online means Walker can have more time to keep his eye on patients, he said.

At the moment, the portal — currently serving about 300 hospitals and clinics — only extends to amending licences rather than renewing them or adding new ones. Starting small was a deliberate move by the CNSC, partly for budgetary reasons and partly because nuclear safety and licences are inescapably complex. There are more than 3,000 licence holders in a variety of different industries. But in the future, the CNSC portal will broaden its scope.

“”Nuclear medicine is only the beginning,”” said Bill Goodwin, director general of the IT services directorate for the CNSC. “”Eventually the operators of power reactors (or) uranium mine facilities . . . will be covered and will receive online services through this mechanism.””

Draximage Inc., based in Kirkland, Que., is a manufacturer of medical radioisotopes. Edward Bump, director of research and development for the company, said life will become easier once vendors are included in the online project. “”The utility could be even greater with some new initiatives. At this point, I think it’s just a convenience, but in the future it could be more of a working model,”” he said. Maybe the licence itself could be published online, he added, provided it was done in a secure fashion.

The CNSC portal hasn’t eliminated the need for paper, however. Walker said he still maintains all the relevant licence information in paper form. In fact, the records aren’t even stored electronically. “”Right now my own records-keeping system is all in binders,”” he said. “”But since it is Web-based I should be able to download it onto a file on the computer, which would be ideal. This could be the impetus for me to do that.””


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