Note: Since this article will have lots of abbreviations, here are their full forms:
RIS: Radiology Information System
HIS: Hospital Information System
CIS: Clinical Information System
PACS: Picture Archive and Communication System
EHR: Electronic Health Record
HL7: Health Level Seven International
𝓗ealthcare professionals often use a bunch of jargon when talking among themselves and this shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s completely natural if it makes communication effective in an industry. Acronyms in particular, offer a bunch of benefits as they offer a simple way to describe situations, processes, concepts and other specific items that otherwise would make the conversation impossible to understand.
And radiology is no different! When it comes to radiology, there are certain terms that are specific to the practice. Radiology is the medical branch that uses imaging technology to diagnose and treat diseases. This in turn generates a huge amount of data that needs to be stored securely and should be available 24×7 to the relevant professionals.
To store the data without having to physically search and retrieve the files, radiologists utilize software tools that ease their work allowing them to focus on the more significant things. This is where softwares like RIS, PACS and HIS come into the picture. If you’re completely in the dark about what RIS is and how it will benefit your institute, then you’re at the right place.
Here, we will discuss what RIS is, its importance, the basics of RIS and what the future holds for it.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐑𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 (𝐑𝐈𝐒)?
A Radiology Information System is a software that assists your staff in keeping better tabs on the patients you treat. RIS helps create an efficient and a higher streamlined radiology workflow.
With a RIS, radiologists can access and manage patient information seamlessly and precisely as compared to old-school methodologies. With RIS, you can easily combine reports of patients with images that were taken today along with historical images, such as those taken to get a baseline. As a result, it helps reduce data entry errors, improve staff efficiency, and improve patient care.
A basic radiology information system can be divided into the following primary components:
- Centralized RIS: A centralized system allows for a faster and efficient workflow but also is prone to major breakdowns thereby affecting the entire radiology department.
- Decentralized RIS: A decentralized system is the one where all components work independently of each other. These are often preferred by radiologists as failure of one component doesn’t affect the other components.
- HL7: A standardized data format that allows one application to send data to the other in a mutually understandable format. It is a globally accepted standard of communication in healthcare IT systems.
𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐎𝐟 𝐑𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 (𝐑𝐈𝐒)
The first RIS was developed in the 1960s and was focused on improving the efficiency when it comes to report coding and delivery of reports. It was during the early to mid-70s when the RIS systems evolved and became reliable thanks to the emergence of newer server technologies.
Equipped with newer database applications and robust programming, RIS helped automate vital functions and implement structured reporting methods that improved reporting efficiency among other things.
In 1980, several universities and private hospitals came together and created the Radiology Information Systems Consortium (RISC) with the aim of building an enhanced RIS.The RISC then proposed various commercial entities to build this system, with Digital Equipment Corporation eventually developing it.
Through the mid-80s, RISC worked alongside Digital Equipment Corporation to develop additional features for the RIS. The RISC eventually became the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine and is still referred to as such.
𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜 𝐅𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐑𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 (𝐑𝐈𝐒)
In an oversaturated market that offers a variety of RISs, you should consider the one that offers atleast the basic functionalities, which are:
- Patient And Resource Management: A RIS allows the front desk executives to swiftly enter the new patients’ details in the system digitally without having to repeat them, thus, leaving no room for error. Hospital staff can quickly book or reschedule appointments without maintaining heaps of paperwork.
Hospital staff can store and track information related to their inventory within a RIS which allows them to create appropriate plans and budgets.
- Scheduling and Sharing: RIS allows the hospital staff to make patient appointments and distribute patient data including medical images to the right individuals.
- Patient Tracking: RIS provides the hospital staff with seamless tracking of patients’ radiology history right from admission to discharge and also allows co-ordination with past and future appointments.
- Image Tracking and Billing: Radiologists use RIS to track a patient’s historical data. RIS provides a thorough financial report of automated claims and e-payments so that the staff doesn’t have to spend a second calculating patients’ bills.
𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐑𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐦 (𝐑𝐈𝐒)
An investment in RIS can guarantee that you can jump ahead of the competition thanks to utilization of analytics and the latest IT infrastructure. Here’s how RIS will support you in your journey:
- Patient Scheduling and Entry: With RIS, the hospital staff can utilize a single interface to handle all patient-related workflows, thereby reducing your overall budget.
- Workflow Management: PACS alone cannot handle workflow issues, especially in multispecialty radiological centers. RIS can manage workflow right from admitting the patient to discharging him, right until a report is generated and the examination is read by the radiologist. Whereas, a PACS is only limited to managing and storing images and sharing them with the concerned radiologist.
- Report Distribution: One of the key features of a RIS is report dissemination and distribution. Since the RIS stores all physician-related data in a central database, it is easy to share and track the records.
- Booking and Scheduling: A RIS system helps arrange all the procedures under a single relevant entry and also allows real-time visibility into the procedures that have been conducted and the ones which are scheduled.
- Documentation: A RIS stores the details of all the patients and their consulting radiologists on a secure cloud storage thereby reducing paper usage to the minimum and helping the IT support become robust.
- Digital Reporting: RIS eliminates the risks and errors that come with the traditional reporting, allowing you to store the information securely and immediately.
𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐬 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐑𝐈𝐒
To understand what the future holds for healthcare enterprises, individual radiologists, and small practices, you have to break down all the aspects of a RIS system.
Here’s a few of them:
- Cumulation of Electronic Medical Records: Not even radiologists can deny the effectiveness of RIS when it comes to saving patient lives and bringing all distinct hospital information systems under one roof. RIS working in tandem with EMR and PACS is not a distant reality.
- Digital Dashboards: In the near future, we can expect radiology dashboards to work in real-time to facilitate operational corrections. These dashboards which will be inspired by BI dashboards and analytics will ensure increased transparency and fewer interruptions guaranteeing higher quality and efficiency.
- Clinical Decision Support: A handful of integrated RIS-based tools are already available in the market that enhance patient management whilst optimizing resource utilization throughout the workflow chain. Though this technology is still in its early stages, all signs point towards a positive direction.
Handling a radiology practice requires patience and attentiveness. Any institute that employs paper-based systems to maintain patients’ files are at a significant disadvantage in comparison to those who use modern technology in the form of RIS.
Technology like the RIS is here to stay whether you like it or not. Why not make the most of it and work towards a better and a safer future!