Gone are the days where you would walk into your doctor's office, and they would have to physically pull out your charts and files from a giant rickety cabinet. Everything was paper-based up until the 1990’s. That’s when technology really began to lift off. Since then, most of us have transitioned to adding terms like smart phone, PACS, and RIS to our vernacular. But seriously, what the heck is a RIS?
A RIS or Radiology Information System is a network based software system used in healthcare to manage medical imaging and patient records. However, do not confuse it with a PACS. The functions of a RIS are widespread. In fact, your RIS can be used in conjunction with your PACS to enable efficiency in radiology; but that’s a conversation for another time. Here’s what you can do with a RIS:
Patient Registration and Scheduling
For your sake we hope you are not still using a pen and paper to record all of your new patient appointments. With a RIS you can just pop into your local system and easily (not to mention efficiently) write down the patient information for registration. You can ask the patient’s name, date of birth, address, reason for visit, and whatever other fields you require. All you have to do is type in the information and save it. All of which can be done while the patient is on the phone with you, or even standing right there in person. Tada!
With a RIS you can track the journey your patient’s records and images take throughout your establishment. That means instead of frustrating your staff by constantly questioning the status of a patient’s CT, you can just log onto your system and in a matter of moments, view a live update. As most Radiology Information Systems can be integrated with the Cloud, including your PACS, HIS, and even EMR, authorized users across your institution can see the urgency level and status of any given patient record or imaging.
This transparency significantly smooths out the bumps in your workflow. Instead of relying on a game of telephone where important information could easily get askew, a RIS allows data to be seen uniformly across an infrastructure.
Think of the money you save today compared to what you used to back in the age of paper. There are fewer errors due to illegible handwriting, and since most people can type faster than they write, more information is recorded immediately. Additionally, decreased turnaround in reports in itself can enable increased revenue. After all, for radiologists in particular, the number of studies read matter.
Back in the day, you had to either mail or give your patient a film copy to take to a specialist. It then progressed to being able to burn CDs or DVDs. Well, today you don’t have to worry about any of the excessive mailing costs or production costs that go into creating the media in the first place. If your RIS is integrated with a Cloud based solution, you can actually send medical records and imaging virtually through a secure channel. Instead of paying extra for a tracking number, try clicking a button and waiting a few moments. Your intended recipient will have to verify their identity by submitting gated credentials. After that, feel free to collaborate live on a case where your partner is in a room on the other side of the building or on a different continent.
Your staff no longer has to be attached to the phone or calculator. Everything can be computerized with a RIS. Not only will you be able to get more done at the office, leading to overall revenue growth; but you processing time will significantly decrease. That means instead of your staff spending hours discussing insurance claims, providers, and ICD-10 codes - in a matter of keystrokes and mouse clicks you are done with the dreaded billing day.
A RIS is not a PACS. It does not promote storage or even long term management of patient medical records. What it does do is promote a more even workflow for you and your staff. From billing to workflow management, a RIS could prove to be useful. The best thing about a RIS in today’s healthcare universe? It can be customized to your needs. Just talk to your vendor, and they will set you up with a solution that works best for your practice.