DR Systems unifies PACS and RIS

January 9, 2007

DR Systems of San Diego is known primarily as a PACS company among the 250 imaging centers in its installed base. Yet half or more of the IT functions carried out at these centers, functions developed by the company for its customers, are more typically found in radiology information systems.

DR Systems of San Diego is known primarily as a PACS company among the 250 imaging centers in its installed base. Yet half or more of the IT functions carried out at these centers, functions developed by the company for its customers, are more typically found in radiology information systems.

DR Systems gravitated into this realm more by necessity than choice, adding RIS capabilities to meet the needs of its customers. When it incorporated a scheduling module and other such RIS options about two years ago, the firm formally started marketing its products as RIS/PACS. Its new Unity RIS/PACS platform, launched in 2006, reflects a full embrace of RIS - and a shift in corporate strategy.

"Utilizing the name Unity, we are emphasizing that we are not just a PACS company anymore," said Douglas Dill, director of marketing. "We are RIS/PACS."

The Unity platform integrates support information technology functions that are usually separate applications in individual PACS and RIS, such as document scanning, dictation, and voice recognition.

"Instead of having half a dozen vendors to support your enterprise, you can work with a single vendor and do scheduling, technical quality assurance, diagnostic reading, reporting, and clinical review over a single user interface," Dill said.

Among its offerings, the Unity platform includes a scheduling component that allows referring physicians, as well as in-house radiologists, to block off time for an individual patient's exam and assure that resources will be available for the procedure at the designated hour. The software also identifies gaps in insurance coverage so any additional electronic liability or insurance forms will be available for the patient to complete at exam time.

The platform's quality assurance component allows technologists to correct problems or peculiarities in the way an imaging modality moves images onto a PACS server and assure that image presentation is consistent. Through an interface with the billing systems, the platform is able to capture changes in demographics or insurance coverage that can interfere with the billing cycle and thus speed up billing, Dill said.

The Unity platform reflects the company's underlying philosophy of developing technology in-house, rather than through acquisition.

"It's not that we have acquired a separate RIS company and are basically running two applications," Dill said. "We are in the minority of companies that have a truly integrated RIS/PACS."