Diagnostic imaging

RIS/PACS integration becomes increasingly popular in Europe

19 June 2007

London, UK. The integration of radiology information systems (RIS) with picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) is fast becoming a defining trend in the European RIS market, with sales of RIS systems expected to increase as a result, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The market earned revenues of $125.0 million in 2006 and Frost & Sullivan estimates this to reach $181.0 million in 2013.

"Demand from healthcare IT customers reveals a distinct preference for RIS/PACS integration," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Ranjit Ravindranathan. "RIS sales in conjunction with PACS are, therefore, a major and growing segment of the RIS market."

While the benefits of RIS/PACS integration are many — improved clinical workflow, simplified work for technologists and reduced data inconsistencies that are common in manual data entry — the intrinsic differences in both systems is likely to make this a challenging task. RIS is a transaction-oriented system that deals with dynamic information for a limited storage volume, while PACS is oriented toward data access and the manipulation of large sets of fixed-content image data.

RIS, PACS and hospital information systems (HIS) are interdependent systems, but are not compatible in terms of the interfaces they use. While HIS and RIS use health level seven (HL7), PACS uses digital imaging and communication in medicine (DICOM).

Offering high-level interoperability of PACS with existing legacy systems such as RIS and HIS is one of the most complex aspects of PACS/RIS integration, which is only likely to become more complicated as the PACS market increasingly shifts from traditional hardware-software solutions to software-only products.

"Providing a smooth administrative platform with interface with PACS and EMR will be critical in ensuring vendors' success," says Mr. Ravindranathan. "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."

Overall, the market is set to experience steady growth due to large-scale investments in bundled product offerings and initiatives by governments of the various European countries. The market offers substantial opportunities for vendors providing customised solutions that easily interface with various modules in the workflow.

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