Saturday 6th October 2018

The third and final day in Harrogate began with developing an understanding of more recent and upcoming scientific imaging techniques and ended with a true celebration of the history of the Institute and some well deserved dancing.

John Allen of The Newcastle Microvascular Diagnostic Service (NMDS) enlightened us with his thermography expertise and its clinical uses. It was interesting to discover that thermal imagining is standardised in the same way as all clinical photography, in order to take accurate measurements. Although this type of imaging is great for detecting pathology, it does not necessarily detect the cause of pathology and so would be used alongside other diagnostic testing. Thermal imaging was followed by an interesting talk by Lex Ballantyne on Cross Polarised lighting and the way in which it can be used in the clinical setting. Lex provided a number of examples of images comparing the lighting techniques, clearly illustrating the difference in results. I found that from the results shown, cross polarised lighting for dermatology purposes produced better results, with less visual glare than standard studio lighting.

The next session by Rachel Hayden from ‘Gifts of Remembrance’, was one which I found extremely educational as a clinical photographer. Rachel discussed the importance of photography, from the point of view of not only an advocate of the charity, but also as a bereaved mother. The presentation highlighted the importance of capturing special moments between a parent and their baby, and the needs for a parent to be involved in the same processes that they would have, had their baby lived. I, for one, know that I have previously been guilty of deciding that a particular photograph may not be appropriate for the parent, however I left Rachel’s presentation and returned to my department questioning, who are we as medical photographers to decide what type of image is appropriate for the parent?

The portfolio workshop for photographers was an excellent opportunity to showcase our current portfolios to Jane, Carol and Simon and receive some constructive criticism. The team gave a brief introduction to their history and their combined experience of assessing clinical portfolios, before describing what they would expect to see at a job interview. The floor was then opened for questions before individual critique of portfolios. I took my most current portfolio along and was surprised to find that I had too much in it and too many images per slide. It was suggested that not all images had to form part of a series, which was the main format to my portfolio. I found the advice from the team invaluable and have since adapted my portfolio to more suit the advice given to me.

Alongside the photographic sessions, there were ophthalmic sessions running, so I dropped into see Hugh Harris demonstrating Slit Lamp Photography. Having used the slit lamp briefly during student work placements, I had the opportunity to have a play with the camera and look at a series of imaging techniques used to illuminate different pathologies. This was a great refresher session, helping to keep skills up to date which I no longer use, and to keep informed with changes within the ophthalmic industry.

The final presentation before lunch was delivered by Simon Brinkworth of University Hospital Bristol on Out of Hours Photography, an issue which affects most of our departments currently and one which I was particularly looking forward to due to our own issues with this within North Bristol Trust. Simon demonstrated figures from his own trust based on the percentage of images taken out of hours and the optimum way that his team have resolved problems with clinicians taking their own photographs. The idea of implementing ‘camera users’, who are responsible for overseeing their departments use of an out of hours camera and who have received formal training in this area seems like an excellent way to reduce issues with image quality and lack of patient information provided. As we are in the process of introducing a mobile phone app for this purpose, it is not something which will be implemented within North Bristol but I believe the information provided would be exceptionally valuable to other departments who are not in the position to purchase a mobile app.

After lunch the celebration of IMI and the profession began with a presentation of 50 years of the Institute, delivered by Garry Swann, who has been a member since IMI began and also attended the first ever conference in 1968. The history continued with 50 years of Medical Art and Graphics delivered by Gillian Lee and Robert Loudon Brown. Chairman, Kathy McFall then delivered the last 50 years of medical illustration overall, discussing the many changes which have happened over this time. It was clear that despite the many efforts over the past 50 years, medical photography and illustration is still not recognised in the same ways in which other healthcare professions are recognised. Accreditation by the Academy of Healthcare Science is a step forward in this process of recognition and as Kathy explained in her presentation, to continue this step up we all need to encourage innovative practice in our own hospital departments. The historical section of the conference was a fantastic way to see the changes that have happened of the past 50 years and the way in which the people and members of the institute have, and continue to build our profession. As part of the newly qualified generation of IMI members, we take great pride in those who have paved the way and made IMI what it is today.

The conference concluded with a presentation from Dr Sam Shah, Director of Digital Development for NHS England. Dr Shah presented the changes happening within the digital age of the NHS and the ways in which the transition to digital are happening through appointment booking, triage and access to information. With the production of mobile phone applications for the purposes of medical photography, it was interesting to hear about the other digital applications within the NHS and the question was raised as to whether the future will bring the NHS together as a whole, digitally, as opposed to the current structure where each individual Trust is stuck in its ‘own bubble’. It was established that a single NHS Cloud will be highly unlikely, however if there are ways to bring the organisation together, that they will be researched. The future of technology for medical photography alongside the photography app, could extend to patient fingerprint or voice recognition as ways to obtain consent to photography. Overall, it was encouraged by Dr Shah that we, as members of IMI and healthcare professionals, should reach out to digital development if we have any new ideas which can improve our practice overall.

With the formal and educational part of the conference over, we celebrated IMI’s 50th Anniversary with dinner, awards and dancing. Fuji-film provided a green screen photo-booth to capture great memories of the evening. The banquet was a great opportunity to network with people from other teams and learn more about those we see so regularly commenting on the Facebook page but rarely have the opportunity to meet. I personally found it exceptionally valuable to network and meet members of our institute, as well as learning about different photographic methods and the ways in which other departments work and I eagerly await the 51st Annual Conference next year in Belfast.

by Joanne McLeod, Medical Photographer, North Bristol NHS Trust.