In Search of Analytics—Beyond RIS and PACS


Move Beyond RIS for Value via AnalyticsManaging a radiology department these days can seem like wrestling a pile of snakes. Just as you’ve got a handle on one area, another slips away and causes trouble. The shift to value-based care is causing your department to change procedures, rethink processes and re-evaluate just about everything else.

Radiology departments using a traditional RIS or PACS to manage all this change seem to be struggling the hardest. They lack the type of detailed information they need to speed up workflow, identify intra- and inter-departmental communication gaps and capture department-wide data in a way that clearly shows where improvements are needed.

For radiology departments inside organizations moving to an ACO model, the data issue is even more acute. Managing patients across a continuum of care requires accurate, complete, sophisticated analytics that RIS and PACS simply cannot provide.

When radiologists talk about the need for a higher-level of analytics, the following items are almost always on their wish list:

  • Ability to analyze data from primary and secondary sources in a variety of protocols (HL7, DICOM, etc.)
  • Stronger management of sub-optimal exam alerts, urgent imaging requests, and critical results communications
  • Automation of technologist reviews
  • Ability to easily capture exam feedback being communicated to technologists
  • Accurate tracking of turnaround times
  • Ability to use data from a variety of systems to create reports designed to help solve problems and improve workflow
  • Automated tracking to help radiologists manage near-term and longer-term follow ups

In an interview with Modern Healthcare, cardiologist Dr. Andy Ziskind of Huron Consulting Group noted that Wal-Mart can tell you which cereal box on which shelf position will sell better on a Tuesday afternoon. “We need to use the same kind of data to focus our care management resources on the patients who need it most,” he said.

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that thriving in today’s era of value-based care is not solely about technology. As radiologists consider their changed role in ACOs (and hospitals in transition), this JAMA article offers some thoughtful suggestions:

  1. Oversee the content and implementation of clinical decision support systems that can be delivered electronically at the point of test or drug ordering
  2. Perform consultation services related to the appropriate use of imaging
  3. Profile the use of imaging tests at the clinician level to provide feedback to referring doctors about their imaging use patterns

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