Survey Gives Insights on RIS/PACS Purchasing Decisions

KLAS researchers interviewed more than 500 provider facilities, finding that the regional vendor CoActive scored the highest at 89.4 out of 100.

For outpatient radiology providers, the decision whether to upgrade radiology information systems (RIS) and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), is a tough one. With the meaningful use criteria not yet determined for radiologists, reimbursement issues and the consolidation of providers, many are holding off on upgrading, according to the new KLAS report: Ambulatory RIS/PACS: Integrating Provider Needs.

The KLAS researchers said that almost 10 percent of providers are looking to switch vendors, however, due to market consolidation and poor vendor performance. Other providers are holding steady because of uncertainty in the market, and are hoping for new developments in the equipment.

Those who are buying new systems are looking in three categories: single-database RIS/PACS vendors, RIS/PACS vendors that aren’t fully integrated, and single-side RIS and PACS vendors. Providers are looking for both functionality and integration, but if they have to sacrifice a bit on one, it would be the functionality, according to the report, which was released on April 19.  Providers also considered cost, technology, and service, with cost being a driving factor.

KLAS researchers interviewed more than 500 provider facilities, finding that the regional vendor CoActive scored the highest at 89.4 out of 100. CoActive PACS “can offer what providers are looking for - a low-cost solution with great support and good functionality,” the report relays from interviews with providers mostly in the Northeast.

The draw for a single-database system is seamless integration and a single interface. Training users is easier and the system is more efficient to operate. “Integration means increased provider satisfaction when looking at in the combined RIS/PACS markets,” said Monique Rasband, KLAS Research Director and author of the report. While there were a few exceptions to that rule (some vendors providing only RIS or PACS technology scored well), the report noted Infinitt’s integrated RIS/PACS system rated highly, with 86.7 score and praises from providers about the system’s low price and good technology. Users also gave great marks to DR Systems, also in this category, with an 84.8 score.

KLAS noted that for the category of RIS and PACS systems that aren’t fully integrated (and are on separate platforms), vendors are working to make the systems cooperate. In many cases, these companies initially sold PACS and then acquired RIS to offer a more complete product. While not all vendors do that successfully, the KLAS report said that Fuji is the top of the group for integration and “near seamless technology,” good communication, a simple interface and web-based functionality. It rated an 86.3 for its PACS score, 83.4 for RIS. Philips iSite PACS received merit for its integration and consistency, but users felt the new technology and functionality wasn’t up to speed. Philips received a score of 82.9 for its PACS system (there wasn’t enough data for the RIS score).

As for vendors offering only RIS or PACS, the focus by those companies is on high functionality in that particular technology. “Single-side vendors that offer only one side of a RIS or PACS solution, like MedInformatix and Intelerad, do exceptionally well in the RIS and PACS markets, respectively. Because they do not need to focus on integrating a RIS and PACS solution, single-side vendors can hone in on functionality,” said Rasband. MedInformatix got an 87.2 score, getting high marks for its integration with third-party PACS, and its built-in billing and schedule module. For the fifth year in a row, Intelerad was the top PACS scorer partly for integrating well to third-party RIS, with an 88.9 score. The company also was praised by users for developing new technology quickly and without coding problems, and upgrades released ahead of schedule.