Technology has taken over every aspect of our lives and the healthcare industry has benefited to a great extent from it. With new information handling systems, hospitals are now better equipped to manage workflow and keep tabs on each patient. Metabolism statistics, personal information, and diagnostic imagery – everything can be easily stored and recalled with the use of smart technology like the PACS system or RIS system. While these two perform similar tasks of scheduling, management, and reporting, they function on separate databases.
RIS or Radiological Information System forms the core system for electronic management for any radiological or imaging department. It is a computerized database used by radiology departments to manage patient information. Simultaneously, a RIS system can also schedule appointments, report results, and track various images. In large medical facilities, RIS systems have become an integral unit to manage workflow. Along with this, a RIS system can also communicate and integrate with a PACS system for better management.
The basic functions that a RIS system can handle can be detailed as below.
- Management of Patient Scheduling and Data
RIS systems are capable of tracking specific patients and their flow through the system. This means that practitioners can immediately access any scans, or reports generated. The data is stored with varying levels of authorization so only the staff in question can access sensitive patient information. RIS systems can also be integrated with an online cloud system so that all data is continuously backed up. Along with this, RIS systems can also handle the scheduling of patient appointments, track their entire appointment history, and alert about any upcoming engagements.
- Generate Reports
Based on the entered data, the RIS system can generate reports for as many patients as required and also create comparative charts. Digital reports also greatly decrease the cost incurred for printing hard copy reports.
- Track Individual Images
This is the step where PACS and EHRs are more widely used. Radiology reporting involves the storage of a large amount of imagery related to scans, digitized images of body segments, and so on. Using a RIS system, these images can be easily tracked by simply entering the associated number of the patient in question. RIS imaging helps to create image modalities by scanning and storing the data.
- Share and Request Information
RIS systems function as a short-term cloud. Doctors, assistants, and receptionists can access information stored on the cloud and also request and share documents as needed.
- Billing and Payment
RIS systems are used to keep track of billing and financial records of the patients. All traces of cash and electronic payments and claims brought on by customers are stored in the database and can be accessed as needed by authorized personnel.
It must be remembered, however, that a RIS system mainly functions to allow easy workflow and coordination between departments without human intervention. It should not be treated as a data cloud for information storage. Backups must be regularly carried to ensure safety. Benefits of RIS systems include:
- Less time spent on data management of individual patients. Quicker reviewing and finding relevant information
- Tracks payment and stores payment history
- Helps transfer and share data between units securely and efficiently
- Acts as a secure database to store patient information
A PACS or Picture Archiving and Communication System acts as cloud storage where all 2D and 3D diagnostic imaging files can be stored. This may include image-sets generated from CAT scans, X-Rays, and MRIs. Authorized personnel can easily recall the information stored as and when needed by entering the patient information. This makes it easier to send and retrieve files. The main sphere when PACS differs from RIS is that PACS was developed to manage images whereas RIS handles all system and patient information, which may also include imaging data.
- Organize Data Patient-wise
PACS systems store all patient information sets with their respective imagery chronologically. This can help to compare sets during surgery or recovery. It can also sort patient information based on a range entered which helps narrow down choices when looking for specific patients or symptoms.
- Benefits of Virtual Images
Being a digital database, it has several advantages over hard copy prints. Users can rotate, enlarge or tilt images as needed. 3D imagery can help doctors visualize the location of organs, blood vessels, and nerves. Multiple images can also be taken, without any financial effort. Additionally, medical clinics save on the cost of paper, ink and printing devices.
- Get Remote Access
Physicians may not always be physically present in the lab the access data. If any specific information is to be sent or received, the PACS system can be given instructions to do that. Being able to remotely access data also helps patients who might have been transferred or shifted to another medical unit.
PACS thus acts as an image taking and management system. An interface created between PACS and RIS systems can encourage smoother transitions. Benefits from a PCS system may include:
- Patients are exposed to less radiation since PACS systems are more adept at taking proper scans.
- Higher quality imagery helps doctors and patients understand the conditions better.
- Quick sharing and reviewing help doctors shorten the time allotted for the check-up of each patient.
- Reduces total workload on clerical staff involved with the management of files.
Both these systems come with four basic modes that aid the work.
- Scanning – PACS system can be used to scan and create imagery. This can then be stored within its database. RIS systems can also store image data.
- Secure Database – PACS and RIS systems act as data clouds where patient information can be stored for short or long terms. Hospitals also have other backups to continuously sift and update newer information.
- Share and Connect – Doctors can be assigned to their accounts with which they can share and request data as needed.
- Management – RIS systems can manage medical staff workflow, whereas PACS systems manage patient information.
Health-care professionals and the medical industry as a whole have moved on to RIS and PACS systems to decrease workload and rely on machine understanding. In the case of electronic payments and data management, information systems can be relied upon to be much more accurate than their human counterparts are.