Integrating your radiology information system in a complex computing environment.Radiol Manage. 2000 Jul-Aug; 22(4):22-4, 26, 28.RM
Radiology departments are a major source of important information regarding patient care. Such information is valuable in its own right but also provides significant added value when correlated with other information, including other clinical diagnoses, therapies, utilization, costs of care and outcomes. In the past, hospitals/imaging centers have typically sought the "best" RIS to meet the needs of the department and its user constituencies (physicians, nurses, medical records, etc.). Function and feature drove the RIS selection process. "Best of breed" was the rallying cry. Having multiple systems and vendors requires information systems and departmental staff to maintain expertise and support in each system and to interact with each vendor. The best-of-breed approach has a number of hidden costs. Before buying, ask "Is the best-of-breed RIS so much better than a more integrated solution that the support and integration efforts are worth it?" This is a complex question involving true needs, perceived needs, wants (justifiable or not), ego, politics, institutional future plans and more. Effective integration in a complex computing environment involves both technical processes and people processes. A cooperative, team-oriented process with the appropriate allocation of staff functions based on expertise and experience is needed. In general, the radiology department is best able to manage operations of the RIS. The information systems department should retain responsibility for housing the RIS computer and performing routine backup procedures as well as monitoring RIS performance. Both organizations can contribute to a highly successful integrated system operation based on their respective knowledge and experience. The IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) is a joint initiative of the RSNA and HIMSS (Healthcare Information Systems Society) to stimulate the integration of information and imaging systems. The initiative will promote enterprise-wide sharing of data via established standards. The organizations, at their annual national meetings, will provide a visible forum and showcase of integration capabilities (most recently at HIMSS 2000).