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Despite the rapid increase in health information technology spending and further spending projected, healthcare organizations and providers need to continue to address a wide range of clinical errors and system underperformance. Clinical information systems are vital to patients receiving the best evidence-based care. Clinical information systems (CISs) have the potential to increase the quality of healthcare through the reduction in medical errors, removing unnecessary healthcare costs, and increasing legibility.


This article discusses the three major clinical information systems; specialty information systems, ambulatory and inpatient clinical systems, and ancillary information systems.

What Is a Clinical Information System?

Clinical information systems (CISs) are computer systems that store, gather, and amend clinical patient information. CSIs can be integrated across entire healthcare systems or be used at a single location within a healthcare organization. The goal for CSIs is to integrate, manage, store, assemble, and administer health data from numerous sources in a well-organized system to deliver patient-centered care. 


CSIs are a significant clinical component of hospital information systems that facilitates direct patient care. CSIs provide medical professionals with immediate access to patient data, such as medication history, imaging, and laboratory reports, via data networks or directly. A CSI, when implemented effectively, will provide workflow improvement, cost reduction, and standardization of procedures.


CSIs infrastructure includes a wide array of clinical databases, networking technology, electronic medical records, and other clinical research systems. Information from the CSI infrastructure is inputted into electronic health records (EHRs) and is then networked/transferred to different databases. All systems in CSI infrastructure use the HL7 (Health Level 7) standard or are compliant with standards such as DICOM to ensure a seamless, consistent, and precise transfer of health information between other systems within the healthcare organization. 

Major Benefits of CISs

CISs can address the many problems present in current healthcare organizations, namely managing large amounts of clinical research and patient data, reducing healthcare costs, and showing a significant increase in the quality of healthcare patients receive. Significant benefits of CISs include:

  • Allowing for better clinical research.
  • Medical professionals have access to all the services and information they need in one central location.
  • Throughout the healthcare system, there is an improvement in optimization and quality of resources.
  • There is direct and instant access to inpatient and remote patient medical records.
  • Patients experience an increased turnaround time for diagnosis.
  • A standard format such as HL7 is utilized to interact with the different clinical information systems.  
  • The best clinical evidence is used to make patient-centric decisions.
  • Communication between medical professionals is enhanced.
  • Improved analysis and quality of patient data.

The Top Clinical Information Systems

Clinical information systems are practiced at the point of clinical care and are used by medical professionals to provide efficient, accurate, and evidence-based patient-centric care. The primary CISs, ancillary information systems, ambulatory and inpatient clinical systems, and specialty systems all work together to provide a well-organized system.

Ancillary Information Systems

Ancillary systems include the Pharmacy Information Systems, Laboratory Information Systems, and the Radiology Information Systems.


Pharmacy information systems (PSIs) function to reduce clinical errors by rejecting notices about medicines, intelligent warnings, and messages. PSIs help monitor drug allergies, drug-related complications, and drug-drug interactions, and they play an essential role in preventing dosage errors. Pharmacy personnel no longer need to double-check medication orders from the CPOE system.


Laboratory information systems (LIS) can be used for different purposes such as research, operations, and quality projects. Medical professionals can easily track the steps in the testing process and can make timeous decisions and diagnoses. Bi-directional interfaces between information systems such as EHRs and LISs are needed for the effective and consistent flow of health data.


Radiology information systems (RISs) easily integrate imaging into a report, improve workflow, total patient treatment quality, healthcare service, and stakeholder satisfaction, and provide the healthcare organization with a competitive advantage. Radiologists can efficiently get the correct information needed for diagnosis by unifying radiology information systems. RISs keep large amounts of clinical data readily accessible, facilitating an increased communication rate between healthcare professionals and patients.

Ambulatory And Inpatient Clinical Information Systems

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are vital infrastructure encompassing almost all CIS subsystems and are essential components for clinical and ambulatory information systems. EMRs need to be integrated with the Practice Management system to automate back-office processes. EMRs are significant in supporting applications required for clinical decisions and preventing clinical errors. 

Computerized provider order entries (CPOEs) are vital in inpatient and ambulatory clinical information systems. They allow medical professionals such as physicians to communicate with different departments, create a prescription electronically, and alert others to errors such as drug-allergy interactions.

Specialty Information Systems

Intensive care unit information systems (ICUISs) aim is to increase the time available for patient care by reducing medical professionals’ time spent on documentation. ICUISs, provide flow sheets and protocol templates, which support continuous assessment, the automatic logging of the patient’s physiologic parameters from monitors (vital signs), and medication adjustment. ICUISs also categorize patients depending on APACHE and SOFA score to ensure the correct decision-making occurs.

For ICUIS to function effectively, they need to be integrated with EMRs and other health information systems. ICUISs can improve the quality of care, medical professionals’ satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness.

Cardiology information systems perform an essential role in the management, monitoring, policy development, and evaluation related to cardiac diseases. All cardiology reports, procedures, requests, and images are integrated into the cardiology information system (CVIS). CVISs reduce clinical error by providing structured templates for the cath lab, pediatrics, peripheral vascular, and other systems.

Other clinical information systems can be integrated with CVIS so that medical professionals can access reports and imaging from the department via a portal. CVISs can also be integrated with hospital information systems to transfer large data files such as nuclear medicine, pediatric echocardiology, 4D echocardiology, and computed tomography (CT) angiography reports. 


Clinical information systems can reduce clinical errors and human errors, providing support to operational management and support holders while increasing patient safety and overall quality of healthcare. 

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