The integration of radiology information systems (RIS) with picture archiving communication systems (PACS) has rapidly become a defining trend in the European RIS market. This latest development has been welcomed by IT professionals in the healthcare sector and as a result sales of RIS systems are expected to increase. A recent study by consultants Frost & Sullivan shows that the market was worth $125 million (US) in 2006 and this is expected to increase to $181 million by 2013.
According to research analyst Mr Ranjit Ravindranathan from consultants Frost & Sullivan, 'Demand from healthcare IT customers reveals a distinct preference for RIS/PACS integration. Radiology information system sales in conjunction with PACS are, therefore, a major and growing segment of the RIS market. '
|Integration of radiology information systems with picture archiving communications systems is becoming a defining trend.
There are numerous benefits to RIS/PACS integration, including improved clinical workflow, simplified work for technologists and reduced data inconsistencies that are common in manual data entry. However, the differences that are intrinsic to both systems are likely to create a challenge. Radiology information systems are a transaction-oriented system that deals with dynamic information for a limited storage volume. On the other hand, picture archiving communication systems are oriented toward data access and the manipulation of large sets of fixed-content image data.
Despite the fact that RIS, PACS and hospital information systems (HIS) are interdependent systems, they are not compatible with regard to the interfaces they use. While HIS and RIS employ health level seven, PACS uses digital imaging and communication in medicine.
One of the most complicated aspects of PACS/RIS integration is the ability to offer high-level interoperability of PACS with existing legacy systems such as RIS and HIS. This will become more complicated in all likelihood, as the PACS market increasingly shifts from traditional hardware-software solutions to software-only products.
'Providing an administrative platform that runs smoothly will be critical in ensuring the vendors' success,’ Mr Ravindranathan emphasises. 'Providers capable of delivering solutions that exhibit these characteristics will be able to leverage their expertise to win prized contracts and to this end, will have to remain focused on product development. '
On the whole, the market is set to experience a steady rate of growth as a result of large-scale investments in bundled product offerings and initiatives by governments of the various European countries. The market is offering a great opportunity for those who can provide customised solutions that interface effortlessly with the various modules that occur during the normal flow of work.