Compared to other specialties, radiology centers have distinct documentation and medical transcription service requirements. These include the need for frequent viewing, electronic ordering of procedures, appropriate patient data for effective information-based decision making, report generation facility, and support for quick notification of the ordering physician about time-sensitive critical findings. Experts say optimal electronic health record (EHR) documentation can be achieved through seamless radiology information system (RIS) and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) integration and information sharing among all members of the health care team.
RIS is the core system for the electronic management of imaging departments, with functions covering patient scheduling, resource management, examination performance tracking, examination interpretation, results distribution, and procedure billing. PACS ensures the immediate availability of images, which is as important as distribution of the radiologist’s analysis of the images.
Today, radiology department workflow is impacted by EMR workflow for order entry and clinical management. While radiology transcription service providers offer accurate and timely dictation capture, integrating RIS, PACS and EMR is crucial to ensure efficient interoperability. Health level seven (HL7) messaging provides the basis for integrating data from RIS and PACS into EHRs.
Effective information-based decision making depends on having patient data at the provider’s fingertips. However, integrating the RIS, PACS and the medical record has become a challenge for many hospitals and health systems. According to a 2015 Becker’s Hospital Review report, the following three considerations are crucial for efficient PACS-EHR integration:
- Flexible and customizable systems: Every PAC and RIS system that a hospital or healthcare system uses needs to be linked to the EHR used by the hospital, outpatient facilities, and the referring practices. Providers need a flexible and customizable integration solution to connect to multiple vendors, as well as different internal and external legacy systems.
- Minimal workflow disruptions: The integration solution should not affect patient care delivery workflow or involve excessive downtime.
- Cloud-based healthcare strategy: A radiology healthcare strategy that is located in the cloud can cut costs, boost workflow, and enhance organizational efficiency while maintaining HIPAA compliance. Cloud solutions drive scalability and flexibility and can address changing needs on an ongoing basis.
Radiology EMR vendors offer a variety of customized pre-designed templates for nuclear radiology, radiation oncology, gastrointestinal radiology, interventional radiology, breast imaging, chest radiology, cardiovascular radiology. As vendors move towards integrating RIS/PACS into a single product for a single, integrated workflow, radiology transcription service companies offer EMR interface solutions for dictation capture and import of documents into EMR, PACS or RIS systems. These EMR integrated solutions provide value to the imaging process and generate imaging reporting results which significantly impact the patient’s clinical outcome.