Question: We are looking at improving our hospital processes by implementing IT systems. What are the different IT systems for hospitals?

There are several IT systems that hospitals implement to improve their core processes. These include:

  • Hospital Information Systems (HIS)
  • Laboratory Information Systems (LIS)
  • Radiology Information Systems (RIS)
  • Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS)
  • Document Management Systems (DMS)
  • Clinical IT Systems or Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

In this post, let’s define each of them.

Hospital Information Systems (HIS)

According to Wikipedia, Hospital Information System (HIS) is defined as:

a comprehensive, integrated information system designed to manage all the aspects of a hospital operation, such as medical, administrative, financial, legal and the corresponding service processing.

Basically, this is the main system of the hospital. It handles many of the core data entry and transactional processes of hospital operations, including patient registration, admissions, billing and discharges.

Laboratory Information Systems (LIS)

According to SearchHealthIT, laboratory information system (LIS) is

a series of computer programs that process, store and manage data from all stages of medical processes and tests.

In most modern clinical laboratories, the LIS is the central nervous system of the operations. It can handle patient demographics, sample and specimen management, turn-around time measurements, order and results management and analyzer connections.

Radiology Information Systems (RIS)

According to Wikipedia, a Radiology Information System (RIS) is

a computerized database used by radiology departments to store, manipulate, and distribute patient radiological data and imagery. The system generally consists of patient tracking and scheduling, result reporting and image tracking capabilities. RIS complements HIS (Hospital Information Systems), and is critical to efficient workflow to radiology practices.

Question: Is the RIS different from PACS?

Answer: Yes, often it is. In the simplest sense, the RIS manages patient information, orders and workflow processes, while the PACS manages medical images and storage.

Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS)

According to Wikipedia, A Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) is

a medical imaging technology which provides economical storage of and convenient access to, images from multiple modalities (source machine types). Electronic images and reports are transmitted digitally via PACS; this eliminates the need to manually file, retrieve, or transport film jackets.

Document Management Systems (DMS)

According to Wikipedia, a Document Management System (DMS) is

a system (based on computer programs in the case of the management of digital documents) used to track and store documents. It is usually also capable of keeping track of the different versions modified by different users (history tracking).

This system is often used for scanning, indexing, storing and retrieving paper medical records.

Clinical IT Systems or Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

According to the US Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are defined as

an electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization.

In reality, this system is often a suite of applications and modules that work together to manage patient clinical data and workflows.