From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
EMR-based solutions often have longer patient registration times due to the number of required fields to be entered. Where imaging center RIS are designed to allow quick registration — for example, an unscheduled patient seeking an X-ray over their lunch hour — EMR are often optimized for inpatient operations and can require extra effort to provide rapid patient registration in outpatient imaging settings.
This can result in so-called exam volume “leakage”, as referring physician groups send patients to organizations, such as independent outpatient imaging centers, that can provide this type of exchange of orders and results between systems. This can be hard to detect due to insufficient data reporting.
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Capabilities to reduce appointment no-shows and enhance the patient experience, like text message reminders and exam instructions, often depend on third-party applications to be integrated and managed.
For healthcare provider organizations, the benefits of the EMR RIS and standardized operations often compete with the flexibility of an independent RIS solution.
The market for independent RIS
As enterprises get larger through acquisition, and more facilities converge on a shared EMR RIS solution, there are fewer opportunities for independent RIS in markets like the U.S. and others. However, many healthcare provider facilities still rely on the reading services of contracted radiologist groups. These groups serve multiple healthcare provider organizations, so they need systems that can receive patient information, orders, imaging exams, and prior reports, from external systems to operate with efficient, automated workflow.
If these organizations operate outpatient imaging centers, they may also need to provide a portal for referring physicians to place orders, access results, and perhaps even view images or chat with a radiologist. In some cases, a patient portal is also provided.
As healthcare provider organizations consolidate, so do large reading groups, which merge with local and regional groups and transition to a managed information and imaging platform.
In addition to reading groups, smaller healthcare provider enterprises that do not have a capable RIS module in their EMR may deploy and interface with an independent RIS solution to provide the desired departmental operations. For smaller organizations, it can be more efficient to have a single RIS solution that can manage both operations and billing.