Teleradiology RIS demands quicken pulse

March 3, 2008

The rising demand for teleradiology-RIS solutions may be the best way to assess the health of teleradiology.

The rising demand for teleradiology-RIS solutions may be the best way to assess the health of teleradiology.

One vendor said the call to organize and manage remote reads and reading services is so loud that teleradiology RIS packages are "selling like hotcakes."

Conventional RIS solutions evolved to provide radiology departments and imaging centers automated, organized workflow management. Reading groups enjoying the teleradiology boom now require the same services.

"The shortage of radiologists, the digital radiology revolution, and the many different industry PACS and RIS packages that radiologists must communicate with have driven groups to look for a single point of entry application to manage the madness," said Christie Hentschl, vice president of marketing sales at RIS Concepts.

The goal of any RIS is to streamline the entire radiology process from patient registration to billing.

"For teleradiology RIS, there is an additional requirement that these tasks be accomplished remotely," said Xiaoyi Wang, Ph.D., president of Thinking Systems.

In the past, electronic medical records, practice management, and billing were not as important to teleradiology as reporting abilities, Wang said.

"But as radiology workflow is more and more driven by RIS, we should see this cascading into teleradiology as well," Wang said.

Teleradiology RIS solutions are indicated any time a radiologist or group reads simultaneously for more than two facilities, said Dr. Greg Rose, CEO of NightRays.

The main advantage of a teleradiology RIS is the ability to read case after case without having to log in and out of the RIS for each individual facility.

"The teleradiology RIS improves workflow and efficiency by making it easier for the busy radiologist to interpret cases for many facilities," Rose said.

Some teleradiology facilities have developed their own in-house teleradiology RIS.

"We've always had a homegrown teleradiology RIS to integrate with our load-balancing system at the operations center," said Matt Cox, vice president of product management at Virtual Radiologic.

Like all commercial teleradiology RIS, their homegrown system lacks modality scheduling and some elements of patient demographic insurance information, but it does enable the company to load-balance studies across 120 or more radiologists.

Cox said their system is designed to facilitate communication.

"If a critical finding occurs during a reading, the radiologist can simply click a button to alert the operations center in Minneapolis, which will immediately get the ordering physician on the phone to confer with the radiologist," he said.

Other operation center buttons on the workstation let the radiologist order priors or request a consult with another radiologist.

"This allows the radiologist to avoid breaking concentration to make a phone call," Cox said.