The importance of integrating a PACS, RIS and back-office system in a Radiology department can not be understated. The benefits of having these three systems tightly integrated will make major differences to the way the business performs. The work flow of a PACS system brings major benefits to the practice and can lead to massive improvements in the turn-around time of patients. This increase in turn around times however is useless unless the back-office systems can keep up and provide the billing functions in a timely and efficient manner. Without integrated systems this becomes a bottleneck in the work flow.
I am a firm believer in consolidating computer systems so they are more manageable in terms of security, maintenance and backup procedures. Systems that are separate and architecturally different provide problems because these systems become difficult to manage due to the fact that the computer administrators need a larger skill set and more time to manage and secure these different systems. One should stick to a standard in computing be it a standard manufacture, Operating System, Database Server, Etc.