The radiology information system (RIS) is considered important for the electronic management of imaging departments. The electronic medical record (EMR) is the core informational system for patient management across the healthcare system. The major functions of RIS include resource management, patient scheduling, examination performance tracking, examination interpretation, results distribution, and procedure billing.
Despite the emergence of picture archiving and communication system (PACS) and EMRs, radiology information systems still hold relevance in the current medical imaging industry and the role of such workflow management systems continue to evolve. In this article we will track the growth of RIS and some of the trends in radiology information systems that we can witness in the future.
In the hospital setting these days, several functions of the RIS including patient registration, report repository, order entry and the physician directory have moved to enterprise electronic medical records. Some of the observers may be of the opinion that radiology information systems are slowly diminishing. So what is it that can be done to ensure that RIS can stay relevant in the future?
Here are some of the points that need to be addressed to ensure the relevance of RIS in the coming years:
RIS has a lot to offer to big data analytics. Most RIS have information that is unique to an institution and a fidelity of information that allows them to see business processes as they happen. Institutions and radiologists can use the data analytics information to improve their own business processes and stay relevant
A technologist's input and insight into the workflow is crucial for those aspects of the RIS that they interact with. A vendor who only focuses on radiologists during the design and implementation of RIS systems is probably going to find that they are not going to be as well accepted as somebody who understands features and functions of the technologist and nurses, as well as the radiologist
Radiology information systems will become more involved with storing information on patient radiation dose. Whether RIS vendors will add specific functionality to track radiation dose or if they rely on other systems is an open question that the marketplace will decide over time
Radiology information systems help in reducing errors and automating the patient's diagnosis right from entry to results distribution, and improving the overall patient care. Some of the key benefits of RIS include:
The RIS provides an immediate and complete overview of the patient's medical history. This helps the clinician to accurately diagnose the condition sooner and reduce medication conflicts and errors
With the help of an effective radiology information system a clinician can know all the possible medical details about a patient. Storing all the information in an RIS reduces such fragmentation and creates smoother transitions between various settings
RIS provides complete access to patient records, real-time reporting, complete documentation tools, interfacing with other providers, and enhanced decision support
RIS links the aspects of patient appointments and charts, communication with other providers and medical billing. This leads to accurate coding, improved delivery of care, and increased revenue and productivity
With multiple levels of integration, the RIS streamlines radiology workflows and is designed to be modular and scalable, allowing its functionality to grow with your organization
As all the patient data, documents, etc. are visible on a single screen through the RIS, it allows radiologists to invest less time seeking the patient data required during the patient examination
Radiologists need to plan for the future where "whoever has the best data wins!" Informatics becomes more important with each advancement in technology, the ability to shape the future could be more important than a new piece of imaging equipment. With the rise of RIS, PACS, HER and clinical decision support systems, hospitals are now focused on enterprise standardization, with loss of local control and flexibility in radiology.
The future will involve reusing existing radiology data and predicting delivery and maintenance processes. That means radiologists must get a seat in the enterprise C-suite to influence enterprise IT decisions and provide radiology-specific IT knowledge needed to drive IT solutions that optimize radiology quality and efficiency.
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