MDI Radiology goes live with COMRAD RIS

Written by Kate McDonald on .

Radiology group MDI has installed the COMRAD radiology information system (RIS) throughout its 12 imaging centres in Melbourne.

The new RIS is aimed at streamlining business management and diagnostic processes, including reporting and the transfer of patient images in conjunction with MDI Radiology's AGFA PACS system.

The new RIS will allow referring doctors who use Mac computers to view linked images, a capability not available in the original RIS/PACS combination.

COMRAD, which was developed in New Zealand and has approximately 90 per cent of market share there, is making inroads into the Australian market and has now established its headquarters here while still maintaining its support and development teams in Christchurch.

The company's new CEO, Elizabeth Delahunty, is based in Melbourne and is planning to increase market share. COMRAD estimates it has 34 per cent of the Australian market, predominantly in private practices but also in some public hospitals.

COMRAD only deals with RIS solutions and does not provide a PACS system, but has developed interfaces to the majority of third-party solutions, including multinational giants like Siemens, Carestream, Fuji and AGFA, Ms Delahunty said.

“We have a lot of interaction with the multi-nationals because they are seeing there is a barrier to entering the Australian market because RIS workflow is different in Australia to other parts of the world,” she said.

“You need to have a billing engine – which is complex in its interface to Medicare and our private health funds – and you need to have the in-depth development and market knowledge to make it work.”

Andrew Scott, COMRAD's founder and product manager, said the company was working with MDI Radiology to allow referring doctors to access linked reports and images on iPhones and the iPad, in addition to Windows and Android platforms.

Referring doctors receive reports straight into their practice management system through a secure mailbox, using secure message delivery services like HealthLink and Argus, but they are also able to use COMRAD's web portal to view key images and additional information. The new mobile technology will allow them to access this information on the go, Mr Scott said.

“It is HTML based so it works pretty much on any smartphone,” he said. “We can add a lot of value if we deliver key images and other content to support the radiologist's view, and to do that you use a web portal. When the GP logs in they can see all of the patients they have referred to a practice and they'll see what their status is.

“And ultimately they can see the clinical result and access to the images, and they can see all of the prior clinical history. So they have both – one is a bit more rich in what it can deliver but the other is more convenient in that the result ends up directly in their system.”

While the ability to receive results electronically is commonplace and has been used for years, the ability for the referring doctor to order tests electronically is still not possible in the private sector in Australia, as Medicare does not allow it. Hopefully this will change soon, Mr Scott said.

“In New Zealand it is just becoming available,” he said. “For the GPs, they can electronically request a radiology examination while the patient is there in front of them. They have the option to refer the patient for radiology, and that will complete an electronic request or referral and the doctor just has to fill out what they are looking for and what the examination should be.

“That will then transfer electronically into our system, where we can take it in as an electronic order. In Australia we do public hospital referrals into the private system as that is allowed, but not GP referrals for radiology. They still have to do a paper-based referral.”

Additional COMRAD developments being implemented by MDI include automatically sending SMS messages to referring doctors, whose mobile phone details are in the RIS, to alert them to reports requiring urgent review.

Radiologists can also filter and prioritise cases, and identify practices facing high demand on a particular day which need their assistance, so workloads can be more evenly distributed across sites.

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