A radiologist with a radiology information system


The Essential Radiology Information System (RIS) Guide

Published January 14,2022

In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview to help you understand how vital a radiology information system (RIS) is in a hospital or imaging facility.

From artificial intelligence to machine learning, there is no shortage of advancements within radiology which makes it one of the most forward-thinking medical disciplines out there today. While there are many exciting technological developments brewing, there’s a core radiology system that changed everything when it was first introduced in the 1960s – the radiology information system (RIS).

functions of radiology information system

Perhaps you’re curious about the RIS definition to better understand what the radiology information system’s purpose is. Simply put, radiology departments use a RIS system to successfully manage their imaging departments electronically. Radiology Information Systems store and organize a large amount of patient information which includes patient demographics, scheduling, exam results, billing data, and more. By consolidating all this critical information into one system, radiology departments:

  • Enhance their workflow significantly
  • Improve the quality of their reporting
  • Gain the opportunity to improve their bottom line

Content Outline

  • How does a radiology information system work?
  • Functions of radiology information system
  • Purpose of radiology information system
  • Advantages of radiology information system
  • Disadvantages of radiology information system
  • History of radiology information system
  • How do RIS and PACS work together?
  • Do I need RIS if I have a PACS?

How does a radiology information system work? 

Radiology departments use a RIS system to manage scheduling, patient records, results distribution, and much more. These main RIS functionalities are what help create an efficient and much more streamlined radiology workflow. With a RIS, radiologists and their teams can access and manage patient information faster and more precisely compared to paper-based methodologies.  

As a result, they’re able to reduce data entry errors, improve staff efficiency, and enhance patient care. 

Let’s explore some of the key radiology information system functions.


Functions of radiology information system

While there are many vendors who offer different types of radiology information systems, the functions below are some of the most common ones seen in RIS systems.   

  • Patient registration and scheduling: A RIS system allows front desk admins to quickly register new patients by inputting information such as their name, sex, birthdate, address, and contact and insurance information within the system. Rather than manually entering information on paper documents, staff can complete patient registration digitally without repeating the task again. Staff can also quickly book and reschedule appointments for patients as they can see a clear overview of available timeslots on their scheduler.


  • Resource management: Users can store and track information related to their material inventory within a RIS. Knowing the current inventory of their materials allows imaging practices to make the right investments and create sound plans and budgets. Since a RIS is continuously maintained with up-to-date information, users can access this information at any point when it’s time for an inventory check.


  • Examination performance tracking: Practice managers can refer to exam result data to identify problems or bottlenecks in their department. Keeping an eye on performance tracking allows managers to see various key performance indicators (KPI) like overall patient satisfaction, exam success rates, and more. Collecting this information and acting on it can help managers improve their operations in terms of boosting staff and patient satisfaction.


  • Reporting: A RIS is an ideal radiology reporting system since it helps radiologists create and distribute digital reports in a fast, efficient manner. In comparison, handwritten reports can be difficult to read due to illegible handwriting – this can potentially lead to errors and negatively impact patient care. In a RIS with voice recognition capabilities, radiologists can use this powerful feature to dictate their findings into report templates for greater productivity and improved report turnaround times.


  • Results distribution: The right RIS system allows radiologists to sign-off on reports electronically and have their reports automatically distributed. A RIS may also include paper-based exporting of results depending on the recipient’s preferences and requirements.


  • Procedure billing: Processing bills and submitting claims on time is key to running a successful imaging practice. A radiology information system software consolidates a patient’s billing information from when they’re first registered until the end of their appointment.


Radiology information system purpose

The RIS was developed to eliminate the inefficiencies of paper-based systems that impact patient care. The goal of the RIS is to ensure that the right patient data is accessible to medical professionals at the right time for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment. The RIS leverages automation to decrease task turnaround times, which improves response times for patient care.


advantages of radiology information system


Advantages of radiology information system

Once an imaging practice has implemented a RIS, they have an opportunity to tap into these advantages below:

  • Boosted revenue: The time-saving automation built within a RIS reduces the turnaround time for reports, which translates to increased revenue. On top of that, it’s easier for staff to identify outstanding invoices, follow-up on payments, and schedule patient appointments.


  • Improved efficiency: A RIS eliminates redundancies in processes such as registering new patients and maintaining patient information, which allows staff to shift their time to other important priorities. Coordination among staff is also enhanced when everyone is working from one system – a RIS offers greater visibility to see where and when which staff members are working.


  • Enhanced patient care: By digitizing paperwork and reducing instances of data entry errors, imaging practices that use a RIS have much more time and bandwidth to provide their patients with quality care.


  • Easy integrations with other systems: The right RIS system can integrate with other medical software systems commonly used in healthcare, such as a hospital information system (HIS) and picture archiving and communication system (PACS). A seamless link between PACS system and radiology information system is important to create a smooth radiology workflow that gives users easy access to the information they need.


  • Reduced data entry errors: Not having to replicate and input information over and over reduces the likelihood of data entry errors. A well-designed RIS system offers report and document templates to help staff prepare these documents faster without missing key information.

Want to harness all the power of your RIS with the technology of the future? OmegaAI has a built-in RIS system with all the imaging and workflow systems to provide comprehensive imaging solutions. 


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Disadvantages of radiology information system

A minor disadvantage of a radiology information system can be that it may take time for your staff to learn and get comfortable with a new RIS. Training sessions, phone calls, or live chats with a vendor for support may be necessary – however, this is the case for just about any new system or software.

Choosing an easy-to-navigate RIS with access to training and self-help resources should get your team up to speed in no time.


History of radiology information system (RIS)

A key milestone within the history of radiology includes the first RIS systems that were developed in the 1960s. However, they mainly focused on improving departmental and radiologist efficiency in two main problem areas: report coding and delivery of reports. During the early to mid-70s, RIS systems continued to evolve and become more reliable as new server technologies became available.

Equipped with new and more robust programming and database applications, RIS systems helped departments automate other functions and implement structured reporting methods for improved reporting efficiency as well as other initiatives.

In 1980, a group of university and private hospitals created the Radiology Information Systems Consortium (RISC) to develop requirements for an enhanced RIS and to create a request for proposal for commercial entities to build this system. The RFP was won and developed by Digital Equipment Corporation.

Through the mid-80s, RISC worked alongside Digital Equipment Corporation to guide the development of additional features of the RIS. The RISC eventually became known as the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine.


How do RIS and PACS work together?

radiology information system pacs

The relation between the RIS and PACS is synonymous with the brain and the heart in the human body. The RIS is responsible for the smooth functioning of the entire imaging workflow from the moment a physician requests an exam right until the patient is billed. The PACS stores patient images and supplies them to the RIS for diagnostic reporting.

In the early days, RIS and PACS systems had to be interfaced in order to work together. Over the years, a more advantageous single database RIS/PACS has been developed by some companies.



How to take your RIS to the next level 

A Radiology Information System (RIS) and even RIS/PACS are great…but what if you could consolidate all integrated imaging tools in a single solution? Well, look no further than our latest SaaS launch: OmegaAI, the world’s first Imaging EMR. Harnessing all the power of your RIS, RIS/PACS, VNA, and beyond, you can enjoy all the benefits we described in this article – and even more. Request your demo today to discover all the possibilities.