Analytics functionality helps RIS continue to evolve

While some observers may feel that many functions of the radiology information system (RIS)--such as order entry and patient registry--have been moving to enterprise medical records, an article in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology suggests the RIS is still evolving and is open to continued innovation.

In a literature review, radiologists John W. Nance, Jr., Christopher Meenan and Paul G. Nagy group advanced RIS functionality into eight categories: electronic medical record (EMR) aggregation; order entry decision support; advanced workflow; clinical decision support; digital dashboards; data mining; customer service; and, surveillance and outcomes.

For example, there is an increasing midicolegal emphasis on accurate and timely reporting of critical results. Ideal solutions to streamline this process, according to the authors, should be integrated into existing systems, deliver messages at point of care, provide options on how the message will be delivered depending on the situation, and provide automatic documentation in the patient record. They noted that one facility created an alert system for emergency department physicians required them to acknowledge receipt of results.

The issue of technologist feedback from interpreting radiologists is necessary as a quality control measure, particularly with rise of digital radiography. Efforts to do this are limited by increased workflow demands and limits to direct radiologist-technologist interactions. Several informatics tools have been developed to deal with this problem, the authors said.

For example, one group developed software that pulled data from the CT reader for analysis of individual technologist performance, such as the number of CTs performed, repeat rates and reasons for repeat examinations. The group identified significant differences in technologist performance and reduced the repeat examination rate by making systemic workflow changes.

Academic radiology departments increasingly are relying on dashboard technology to track all the data they have to deal with on a daily basis. According to a survey published earlier this month in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, two-thirds of responding academic radiology departments said they used digital dashboards to keep track of data such as that associated with revenue, expenses, examination volume and turnaround time. Fifty percent of respondents said that they have utilized dashboard technology for two years or less.

To learn more:
- read the article in the the American Journal of Roentgenology

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