What is a Radiology Information System and What Benefits Does it Have?
Photo by Harlie Raethel
Radiology is one of many areas of healthcare turning to information systems for tracking. Learn what a radiology information system is and some of its benefits.
All radiologists out there are rather talented when it comes to x-rays and patient diagnosis. It’s their job, after all, and requires a huge amount of training. But there are other parts of the job that radiologists simply aren’t trained for. Things like data entry, stock management, and money-saving skills.
The above are equally important to the successful running of a radiology department but simply aren’t taught for the profession as much as they should be. That’s because today there are alternatives that allow you to stay on top of these issues without training.
Information management systems (known as IMS) are used in many professions today from restaurants to hotels. But there are specially designed examples of clinical information systems that can streamline the management of any healthcare unit. A radiology information system is no exception and can transform the day-to-day running of your radiology department.
What Is A Radiology Information System? What Does It Include?
A radiology information system is, put simply, a computerized system where you can analyze both business and workflow in a radiology department. They are also designed to be able to contain patient data which allows them to contribute to an electronic patient record. To do this a typical radiology information system has a variety of different functions.
This can include a user-based interface, which means staff members have login details to see specific information related to their patients. This is vital in the healthcare sector due to the confidentiality involved in patient information. The last thing you want is a system that anyone can wander onto and steal patient data from with ease.
A RIS system will also allow radiologists to register new patients into the system like young children or those who haven’t had health problems previously. A well-designed radiology information system should also have the ability to track information that a patient consents to being shared and information that they don’t.
This can allow the freedom to select which information is private, such as marking patient records as confidential if the patient wants it to be. In addition to confidentiality, a good system will show patient demographics, meaning information about patients such as their age, gender, and height as well as more specific details.
This is essential to identify a patient before their records are accessed. The system should be able to schedule electronic referrals for patients, making the process of transferring them to another department much easier.
But it should also be able to perform this through paper methods if necessary. As can be seen, a good system is multi-functional, it can do many things at once. Crucially the system should have the ability to book in appointments as well as create staff worklists and folders. This allows the system to improve the workflow of a department by keeping all scheduling and accessible information in one place.
This is in addition to being able to deliver various reports, including examination details and stock control. If something needs to be written down or taken note of, you should be able to do it through the radiology information system.
What Is A Radiology Report?
A radiology report is a way in which radiologists let their patients know the results of a test or other important information. The report will review personal medical history and include recent diagnosis and examination results. There are sets of data the report has to include, such as the name of the radiologist, technical details relating to the exam and the radiologist’s impression. This report is essential when it comes to the radiologist communicating with their patient as well as other healthcare departments.
The ability of a RIS system to create radiology reports is one of the main reasons why any department should use one. The system can also ensure all information is correct and that the layout of every report is identical. This makes reading the report and getting their diagnosis less confusing for the patient.
What Else Can Radiology Information Systems Do?
There are even more things that the system can do in addition to the above. It should have an advanced film tracking capability, meaning it should be able to save all x-ray images digitally as well as produce a hard copy. The system should be able to schedule billing and be able to communicate with any other systems a healthcare provider uses. This means it can transfer data between departments, such as during a patient transfer, and make the process of billing patients much simpler.
In addition to creating reports for patients, it should be able to create management reports. These can be used by senior staff to improve the performance or satisfaction levels of a department. A good example of what it takes to offer reliable radiology information systems is MedInformatix who works to create a comprehensive, seamlessly integrated system.
How Will This Benefit Our Patients?
All the features above go a long way in making the day-to-day running of a radiology department easier for all staff members and better for their patients. A Michigan-based private radiology department recently reported that investing in a system allowed them to improve their overall productivity by 10%. This is because the ability to input patient information directly into the system means it needs to be done just once.
Then, the data is retained in the system permanently. This is a far easier process than making radiologists write this information out multiple times. The ease of a radiology information system extends further, as you can quickly make amendments to any information directly in the system. This means you don’t have to make a whole new document every time details are changed. This is doubly helpful for storing and tracking x-ray images.
The nightmare situation of losing a hard copy scan and having to do the entire x-ray over will never happen again. The system can keep a reserve of all images and documents. This helps to not only reduce errors but keep all patient information safe. This ensures your staff can dedicate more of their time to their patients, rather than with data. A good RIS system will even allow for interactive documents, like zooming in and out of x-ray images as well as film tracking.
This can help a radiologist to explain the results of a test to a patient in a more visual way that’s easier to understand for those not medically trained. In the long run, this can make the actual diagnosis process more accurate because of the streamlined processes. Patient coordination will be improved thanks to the system scheduling, meaning staff knows where patients need to be at all times. This is one of the many ways in which the system allows an overall higher level of patient care, one of the most important parts of any radiology department.
How Will This Benefit Our Department?
But not only can the system improve the experience of patients, but it also works to keep staff better organized. When everyone is working from one system, it’s easy to schedule in who should be where and easily see what everyone needs to do in the working day. This works wonders for the efficiency of staff and is a better working environment for them, as they don’t have to remember where they need to be every hour of the day.
All of this information can be secured in the system, meaning once someone has logged in they have immediate access to it at any time. This doesn’t just mean better staff management, it means better stock management as well.
Provided the data is put into the system, you can track what stock you have left and what needs to be ordered with far less hassle than keeping pen and paper records. This better understanding of your healthcare materials also allows a stronger grip over the department’s budget. You’ll no longer order too many of the wrong items or go without an essential component for days because someone forgot to order it.
This can all be tracked and easily managed in the system, meaning you can even analyze the data to save money on future orders. As the immortal saying goes “time is money”. A reliable RIS saves a huge amount of time when both first entering data and avoiding mistakes that will waste time later.
When Should I Invest In A Radiology Information System?
If you manage or work in a radiology department that doesn’t yet have a radiology information system, then you should invest today. Whilst they are expensive up-front, the savings you’ll make in both time and money will make any investment worthwhile. It might seem a bit scary at first to buy a whole new system, but once you’ve made the jump you’ll never look back. A RIS system can improve every part of your department, from your staff’s workload to your patient’s satisfaction. Don’t get left behind and join the big data radiology revolution today.