Examining a Weak Link in Radiology Reading: Lack of Patient Data

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When it comes to the radiology reading, one of the weakest links is the lack of access to patient information. To provide an accurate read, radiologists should have patient information as well as current and prior imaging studies. As a radiologist, the typical patient clinical information I receive is a three-word description—and sometimes not even that.

Integration of data and imaging systems is the key to delivering access to patient information. RIS and PACS are now more tightly integrated than ever before and other information systems need to be integrated as well. Vendors are working to embrace industry standards and dissolve these silos of information. Carestream Health, for example, delivers centralized storage and viewing of non-DICOM and DICOM data to expedite access.

Existing PACS systems need to be able to interface with not just RIS, but also HIS, EMR and departmental systems (such as pathology, lab and others) that contain patient data.

As the U.S. discusses moving toward greater sharing of patient healthcare records on a regional and national basis, it is essential that we start with the ability to access data that is stored within a local healthcare institutions and the providers its serves. Then we can extend access across a broader group of healthcare providers and users.

Are radiologists at your institution getting access to pertinent patient information as they are reading exams? What systems have you linked together to deliver patient information? And how easy is it for radiologists to get to the data?

If you are a radiologist, do you feel comfortable with the patient data you currently have available?


Dr. Eng, Chinese Hospital, San Francisco, CA


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