Radiology Information System (RIS)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: RSNA 2017 conference coverage and analysis
Contributor(s): Shaun Sutner

A radiology information system (RIS) is a networked software system for managing medical imagery and associated data. A RIS is especially useful for tracking radiology imaging orders and billing information, and is often used in conjunction with PACS and VNAs to manage image archives, record-keeping and billing.

A RIS has several basic functions:

Patient management
A RIS can track a patient's entire workflow within the radiology department; radiology providers can add images and reports to EHRs, where they can be retrieved and viewed by authorized radiology staff. 

The RIS allows staff to make appointments for both inpatients and outpatients.

Patient tracking
Using a RIS system, providers can track a patient's entire radiology history from admission to discharge and coordinate the history with past, present and future appointments. 

Results reporting
A RIS can generate statistical reports for a single patient, group of patients or particular procedures. 

Image tracking 
Traditionally, radiology providers use RIS to track individual films and their associated data. But as EHRs have become standard across the healthcare industry and digitized images and PACS have been widely adopted, radiology departments and their RIS-PACS systems have been more drawn into the clinical workflow of the entire medical enterprise.

RIS systems provide detailed financial record-keeping and process electronic payments and automated claims, though these functions are becoming incorporated into medical organizations' overall EHR systems.

This was last updated in May 2015

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Will healthcare providers continue to use RIS as standalone radiology IT systems or will RIS systems be replaced by PACS, VNAs and EHRs?


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