RIS-PACS Rolls Over the Radiology Wheel

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Daniel Kennedy, nuclear medicine and vascular interventional technologist, works on the ScImage PicomRIS and PicomEnterprise at Sapheneia Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.Integrated RIS-PACS almost sounds too good to be true. Can it really offer reduced costs, improved productivity, speedier report turn-around times, track patients and equipment, offer more detailed reports, and even help recruit physicians? Organizations that have implemented an integrated solution are experiencing all of this and more.

Sapheneia Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., a new facility that went operational in November 2006, was co-founded by Patrick Sewell, MD, a minimally invasive interventional radiologist. “We are building what we envisioned — the most technologically advanced ambulatory surgical center to date. Everything is the latest and greatest. We spared no expense on technology,” he says.

That vision led Sewell to the integrated PicomRIS and PicomEnterprise solution from ScImage. “What I was looking for didn’t exist. [ScImage] built the system for us with components they already had.” ScImage was still working on final tweaks prior to the November installation, but Sewell wasn’t nervous about going with a relatively untested system. As a pioneer in thermal ablation of cancerous tumors, he “likes the unknown when it comes to medical care,” he says. “We tend to go with edge-of-the-envelope technology.” He also was interested in working with ScImage to advance their solution. “I didn’t necessarily want perfection right away. I wanted to see the possibilities and be part of the creating.”

Track and review for improvements

Numerous data collection points mean that Sewell can better track and schedule patients. ScImage’s PicomRIS scheduling component allows for tracking of patient arrival times and wait times in each step of a visit, combined with medications, nursing notes and other details. To improve patient flow, “the key is retrospective review.” The scheduling component is “a way to get feedback that’s automated and easy to evaluate.” He can see where patients’ experiences can be improved, what caused a lag, and even whether additional employees are needed.

Patients aren’t the only factor Sewell is interested in tracking. ScImage’s solution also includes an inventory component — “critical for a start-up business and for private practices,” Sewell says. Misplacing a $500 catheter has a bigger impact on a smaller organization than it does on a large medical center. Preventing that and automated ordering capabilities are very valuable to Sepheneia Medical Center. Automated ordering “relieves the burden and removes human error,” Sewell says. 

Emphasize efficiency

The integrated Vision Series RIS and Vision Series PACS from  Amicas has helped Body Imaging Radiology, a group with two locations in Beaverton and Tigard, Ore., improve their billing, cut film printing, eliminate transcription costs and turn-around reports in minutes. Amicas worked with the organization to set up custom charging, says Scot Robinson, IT director. He also integrated speech recognition which saved thousands of dollars a month since he no longer needed one FTE and an outsource agency for transcription. Aside from those savings, Robinson says radiologists and referring physicians appreciate better workflow.

“Referring doctors get information much more quickly and can now access images over the internet. The radiologists particularly like the ability to use a worklist,” says Robinson. “They can pick studies off the worklist and sit and read.” Since they can start reading studies so quickly after acquisition, referring physicians can receive a preliminary report via fax or email in record time. The system allows for automatic sending of reports, so “there’s not even user intervention needed to get a report out of the RIS.”

Eliminating distractions for radiologists also has helped productivity for Outpatient Imaging Affiliates, an organization that partners with several facilities to manage outpatient imaging, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., says Jeff Tumbleson, IT director. “Literally having everything at their fingertips they need to read the case when they sit down to read is a key component.”

The imaging reimbursement cuts from the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) are requiring imaging centers to “become more efficient in everything we do for more exams and increasing throughput. In that environment, you can’t be hanging film and working with paper,” he says. An integrated solution allows users to have “a seamless workflow from scheduling through billing and take advantage of all of the nuances the system provides.” That helps recoup