How to Develop a Future-Ready Radiology Information System for Healthcare Enterprises

Dileep Gupta February 15, 2024
Radiology information system software

Technology is pivotal in enhancing patient care, streamlining workflows, and improving overall efficiency. One major component of this continual digital transformation in healthcare is a Radiology Information System (RIS).

RIS, a sophisticated database, is changing the healthcare industry in multiple ways. It is revolutionizing how medical professionals manage and use radiology images. Being the backbone of the healthcare system, they ensure that every radiology function runs smoothly and safely benefitting patients immensely.

Due to its overarching benefits, experts predict the RIS market to reach $2.2 billion by 2032. Increasing instances of chronic diseases like cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are the primary factors why the need for RIS is imminent and pressing.

If you or your organization is looking to cultivate – explore the in and out of the system.

Develop RIS for your healthcare organization

Decoding What Radiology Information System (RIS) Is and How it Helps Healthcare Enterprises

A Radiology Information System is an advanced database system often utilizing AI. It stores, manages, organizes, and tracks patient data and radiology image files. The patient data and image files include crucial documents. These might be collected during diagnosis and treatment.

It is a form of electronic health record (EHR) system specifically designed for the radiology department. Often, radiology medical professionals use this system to access patient details. They use the system to distribute patient data to the concerned healthcare providers.

There are several types of radiology information systems, such as –

Types of radiology information systems

  • Standalone RIS: A standalone system manages all the radiology tasks for one organization. It cannot connect with other healthcare systems.
  • Integrated RIS: It integrates with other healthcare information systems (like EMR and PACS). Such RIS facilitates a better overview of a patient’s medical history.
  • Web RIS: Anyone with an active internet connection can log onto this RIS. It is accessible through a web browser.
  • Mobile RIS: These RIS systems are responsive and run on mobile devices. Users can access these systems on the go.
  • Cloud RIS: A cloud-based radiology information system is an RIS hosted on a cloud server. A third-party vendor often handles the maintenance of this system. They usually leverage cloud-computing technology in healthcare.

What are the Core Components of Radiology Information System?

Implementing an RIS can help your workforce streamline processes accurately. You will also be able to reduce medical errors and transcription mistakes in charts. It helps to coordinate care across departments.

Send updates from the imaging department to the patient’s primary healthcare provider. Apart from this, there are a lot of other functionalities of RIS. It could include:

  • Registration,
  • Scheduling,
  • Billing and reporting,
  • Simplifying processes.

Here is a list of the top core components of the radiology information system:

  • Patient Management

RIS keeps patient history records and helps in booking, scheduling, and order tracking. It eliminates the need for manual paper-based documentation.

  • Reporting

With RIS, you can generate digital reports providing timely and valuable insights. It helps find any bottlenecks, trends, and other key markers. Perfect for optimizing the workflows and performance.

  • Image Storing and Tracking

The system simplifies tracking images from medical imaging devices and related patient datasets. Store medical images from imaging devices and other patient details on the database.

  • Billing

This component helps maintain patient billing information and issue electronic invoices. As a result, you can minimize the risks of declined or delayed payments.

  • Data Analytics and Sharing

With RIS, you can:

  • Generate reports on no-show patients.
  • Track radiologist workload.
  • Track the dollar volume of exams
  • and other vital aspects of the radiology department lifecycle.

These reports provide invaluable insights to find gaps in healthcare processes. Sharing actionable insights with concerned stakeholders is much simpler now.

  • HIPAA Compliance Mechanisms

The radiology software deals with sensitive patient information, like names and personal details. It must follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules. The Act is in place to protect people’s privacy.

Your RIS system should include security measures to avoid breaking HIPAA rules. There might even be severe penalties for negligence.

Some basic steps to safeguard involve:

  • automatic backups,
  • logging off when not in use,
  • and end-to-end data encryption.

Develop future-ready healthcare systems

RIS Fits Perfectly in Your Larger Healthcare Ecosystem

Integrating the RIS into your existing healthcare solution serves the larger purpose of offering the patients the best possible healthcare experience. Integrating RIS with your healthcare solutions addresses several key challenges and offers paramount satisfaction and care to those who need the most.

More than just optimizing radiology workflow, integrating RIS with the rest of your ecosystem enables:

  • Access to complete patient records
  • Reduction of data entry errors
  • Improved consistency, accuracy, and information availability
  • Automation of repetitive and error-prone activities
  • Lower costs
  • Increased quality of care
  • Better treatment and diagnostic outcomes

Let’s consider the most common ways of integrating radiology information systems.

Integrating radiology information systems

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

EHR is a patient’s official health document shared among many healthcare facilities. RIS integration with EHR helps share images directly with other healthcare professionals.

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM)

It is a combination of software and hardware used for X-rays. Usually, it is a digital imaging and communications standard in Medicine. It specifies a diverse dataset of patients, imaging equipment, procedures, and images. Integrating DISCOM with RIS simplifies data sharing and communication between systems.

Also Read: How Much Does It Cost to Build a DICOM Medical Imaging Software?

Health Level Seven (HL7)

HL7 international standards guide transferring and sharing data with other providers. With integration, data can be shared easily across systems. This reduces administrative burden and improves care delivery.

Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI)

EMPI is a patient database that maintains and fetches accurate patient demographic data. EMPI and RIS integration work as a single source of truth for patient identities.

Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS):

PACS helps store, retrieve, and manage radiology images. PACS works in integration with the RIS. This ensures streamlined access, routing, and archiving of radiology images.

Billing and Reimbursement System

For accurate claims, RIS can integrate with supportive billing systems. It helps reduce errors and ensure bills are paid on time. It also facilitates billing assistance that involves creating and sending invoices. You can also track payments and generate reports.

Patient Portals

The RIS integrations with patient portals allow them to access diagnostic results easily. It further increases patient engagement and improves satisfaction.

Benefits of Embracing Radiology Information System (RIS)

RIS has many benefits that facilitate efficient care of patients throughout the system. Having a radiology information system in place can make work easier for staff. They will be able to extend better diagnosis and treatment to radiology patients.

Let’s find what benefits it has over manual, paper-based workflows.

Better Resource Management

RIS makes it easy to keep track of the budget and other resources. Identify data lacks and information that requires reordering. Healthcare facilities can control the budget for managing databases and plans accordingly.

There’s nothing worse than realizing that an item went missing. Most healthcare businesses currently use inventory management systems but are missing out! Having an RIS in place can help streamline the radiology departments.

Improves Efficiency and Productivity

Reliable and accurate data forms the bedrock of a robust business. With proper information, it is possible to make calculative decisions. It will also be challenging to measure the system and staff’s performance.

The RIS system streamlines the data input process and makes it user-friendly. It empowers the hospital staff to enter information faster with reduced efforts. Efficiency will definitely be improved.

Fewer Data Entry Mistakes and Errors

Radiology information system software will have document templates that will help your systems. These will offer guidance for filling out the correct details in the proper fields. It reduces the risks of entry errors and helps manage all information accurately.

Cost-effective Solution

Healthcare facilities can save money and resources with fewer mistakes and entry errors. Further, they can improve information processing time and complete processes faster.

More Accurate Diagnoses

Radiologists with precise and dependable patient data can deliver diagnoses accurately. Your overall healthcare system will improve. You will witness the results in the annual reports of the practice.

Better Patient Care

Healthcare providers want more time for patient engagement and to offer better-quality care. Automating various radiology information system functions and workflows offers precisely that!

RIS can save the hospital staff a lot of time and effort – Focus on patients more and pay attention to their concerns. The streamlined processes also help reduce the stress of working in the industry. This will ensure the staff treats more patients with better diagnoses and care.

Improved Patient Coordination

Managing patient care becomes more seamless with computerized records, thanks to medical RIS. Healthcare providers can contact consulting specialists and the patient’s primary doctor. They can also collaborate with a hospital for procedures. And a rehabilitation facility for post-treatment exercises.

All this improves interoperability and smoother patient coordination throughout the healthcare treatment process.

Increased Revenue

Many features of radiology information systems streamline administrative functions. This saves money on overhead costs. Healthcare facilities can give more time to crucial tasks without sizeable administrative staff. Boost revenue by reducing missed appointments and the turnaround time for generating reports.

The Process of Developing an RIS

Developing a radiology information system is a multi-step process, involving various stakeholders. There are several factors to be considered at various stages of developing the RIS. Let’s look at the process in detail.

Pre-Development Process

The pre-development process is vital for an RIS. The organization must plan, decide upon workflows, and ensure every requirement is in place, before the actual implementation begins.

Planning it Right

For an RIS, it is imperative to create a detailed project plan. After initial planning, a team of professionals with expertise in different fields has to be formed. The team could include a radiology physician and technologist to shed light on the workings of the radiology department. The rest of the team can comprise an imaging physician, IT professionals (radiology) and nurses.

A comprehensive team brings with it a diverse skill set and technical expertise such that implementation of the RIS can happen smoothly.

Development and Integration Process

  • Installation and Configuration:

After the pre-development phase, start working on your RIS software. You can also install and configure third-party RIS software. Along with the software, installing the necessary hardware and setting up the software environment is necessary.

  • Data Migration:

For the RIS to function properly, there must be a system for implementing data migration. This includes transferring existing patient data, and radiology images. It also requires transferring of other relevant data to the new RIS.

  • Testing the Integration of Image and Data:

To set it up properly, PACS needs access to information regarding the demographics, creation, modification, etc. The data being passed must be verified for accuracy to ensure seamless integration. Specialists usually carry out extensive tests to cover all the functionalities to ensure the RIS is working flawlessly. Any issues discovered during the testing are addressed and troubleshooted.

  • Diverse Representation:

Get as many professionals as possible onboard to ensure the system is set up properly. This is needed to troubleshoot any problems that might arise during data transfer.

Post Development

After the RIS is set up, here are some post development processes involved to maintain its smooth running:

  • Creating an ongoing support and maintenance center to address any upcoming issues or concerns with the functioning of the system.
  • Protecting and tasking the radiology experts to prevent data leaks.
  • Conducting committee meetings.
  • Make training programs for professionals involved in the process. Most vendors do it to keep their people technologically sound regarding issues that might arise related to the RIS.

How Much Will It Cost to Develop a Radiology Information System?

The radiology information system development cost can vary depending on multiple factors but usually it costs between $40,000 to $150,000. Each factor influences the overall cost structure and can make or break the project. Let’s consider some of the most common factors to give a fair idea.

Features and Functionality of RIS Software

More features and functionality in RIS software mean higher costs for healthcare facilities. Features like real-time patient monitoring or predictive analytics in RIS will cost more.

RIS Customizations for Healthcare Needs

Custom RIS software solutions specifically tailored to its needs will cost more. We have established that!

Some of these customizations can include features such as:

  • Integration with existing systems
  • Unique workflows
  • Specific reporting requirements

Hence, it is crucial to understand your healthcare workflows. Identify the most essential features for customization to control the cost. Approaching trusted healthcare software development services for custom RIS solutions is an option.

Platform and Technology for RIS Development

Using reliable and advanced platforms and technology is essential to developing RIS software. It further adds to the cost of the system.

For example, let’s say an RIS compatible with many operating systems like Android or iOS. The development cost will be higher when compared to a system that works on a single platform. Moreover, cloud-based RIS systems will be more costly than standalone RIS.

Healthcare Facility’s Size and Complex Workflows

Size and complexity of a healthcare facility can make the development process tedious. You might notice a need for multiple features and expertise in different areas.

Large-scale hospitals with more complex workflows and operations need more sophisticated systems. This can take time and resources, leading to higher costs.

Changing Regulatory Compliance

Healthcare facilities and professionals must comply with several regulations. Most of these are related to data privacy, security, and patient safety. These compliances may change and often require constant vigilance for complete adherence.

Developing an RIS that meets healthcare compliance requirements can be expensive. But that’s a must!

Post Development Maintenance and Support

Maintenance and support are crucial for the smooth functioning of any software system. Post development and implementation of RIS, healthcare facilities need continuous maintenance.

It can include updates, bug fixes, operational support, and staff training. It further adds to the overall costs of RIS implementation and development.

Finding the Best Team for RIS Development for Optimum Output

One of the most challenging tasks in the RIS development process is balancing the cost. Couple this with narrowing down a dedicated team with thorough knowledge, and it can be difficult. While focusing on the system’s core features is essential, having a project plan is non-negotiable.

To help you with it, here are a few options to consider before finalizing your RIS development team:

In-house Team

Hiring an in-house team of developers can work in your favor if you have an unlimited budget. You must also be ready to spend time interviewing potential employees to build a dream team.

Further, you will require expertise to select the best team members with the right skills. Managing projects effectively for timely and efficient completion can be a challenge.

Identifying and addressing potential issues during the project’s development can also be tricky. Teams need to have required skills and expertise to complete the task successfully.

Outsourcing to An RIS System Development Agency

Another viable option to develop a quality RIS solution is an outsourcing agency. It allows you to optimize your development budget while utilizing their field expertise.

It is more cost-effective compared to building an in-house development team from scratch. You can save money on recruitment, onboarding and training, infrastructure, and ongoing overhead.

Employing Freelancers

Even though hiring freelancers is the cheapest option, you should re-think that. Their lack of expertise and inability to manage resources can impact the quality. Moreover, there might be a risk to patient data.

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, RIS helps run radiology practice with efficiency compared to manual systems. It ensures fewer data entry mistakes and enables more accurate diagnoses. Healthcare facilities can manage large data and image files using RIS. This is where they can save a lot of time and effort.

Ensure that you take a step-by-step approach to automation. Partnering with an experienced RIS software development service provider is a top option. Make sure they have expertise and experience in radiology information system software development. They should be able to create scalable solutions.

Having expertise in medical compliance is a non-negotiable. This is where the future is, and it can be a game-changer for your enterprise! Step into the evolution of healthcare with our healthcare software development services adding value to your healthcare business along the way.

FAQs

Q. What is the difference between RIS and PACS?

A. PACS and RIS are both crucial in managing medical imaging. But they serve different purposes. PACS stores, retrieves, and shares medical images like X-rays and MRIs. On the other hand, RIS manages and distributes information about radiological examinations. Further, PACS systems require more storage and are usually more expensive. Their integration allows for better management of medical images and information.

Q. What is ICT in radiology?

A. ICT in radiology refers to use of digital technologies, databases, and other applications. Health information and communication technologies (ICT) help prevent, treat, and manage chronic illness. ICT also aims to provide capacity for system efficiencies and prevent medical errors.

Q. What is the purpose of healthcare information systems?

A. Healthcare information systems facilitate the use and sharing of health-related data. It helps decision-makers make data-driven choices regarding health policy and optimize resource allocation.

Healthcare facilities develop and implement top HIS software to promote better patient outcomes. Resource management is much better with such systems.

Q. Do I need RIS if I have a PACS?

A. Yes. Both RIS and PACS complement each other to improve efficiency. While PACS manages medical images, RIS handles patient information. Plus, it allows scheduling and workflow for radiology departments.

The two systems can work hand in hand to enhance efficiency. Their integration ensures seamless coordination between image acquisition and patient data management.

THE AUTHOR
Dileep Gupta
DIRECTOR & CO-FOUNDER
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