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PACS Radiology Graphic Diagram

When it comes to imaging, there are two main types of systems: PACS and RIS. Both are used in radiology, and each has its own benefits. Since they both have similar names, it can be difficult to tell them apart. In this article, we will explore the difference between a PACS and a RIS so that you can easily decide which system best fits your needs as a radiologist or hospital administrator.


Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) are comprehensive computer systems responsible for storing and distributing medical images in healthcare organizations. PACS work with digital acquisition modalities, display devices, radiology information systems, and hospital information systems to allow healthcare institutions to store and distribute securely digital images.


Compared to conventional films, PACS provide better reliability, space savings, and efficient data management. By far, the most critical advantages of incorporating PACS into your workflow include:

PACS Workflow Design

  • Reduced film-storage space
  • Reduced waste and cost
  • Instant access to images and patient data
  • Increased productivity
  • Real-time access to patient data
  • Seamless systems integration
  • Better timelines of care and treatment
  • Accurate access to previous images and data


Depending on the type of setup you have, PACS can work independently or be connected to RIS and HIS healthcare systems for more comprehensive services. PACS has four main components:

  • Image acquisition devices: Hardware imaging machines that might include MRI, CT, PET, X-Rays, and more.
  • Communication networks: Secure networks for distributing and exchanging images that could be connected to HIS/RIS systems and remote cloud services. 
  • Integrated display workstations: Workstations or mobile devices for viewing, processing, and interpreting images.
  • Archive and servers: Electronic archives for storing and retrieving images and related reports or documents.

Pros and Cons


  • Allows radiology professionals to store all the diagnostic imaging files in 2D and 3D.
  • Makes it easier to manage all imagery needed to monitor patients.
  • Improves timelines to locate patients’ records and history images.


  • Might need other systems to offer a comprehensive solution.
  • Requires hardware that can be expensive.
  • Requires other security protocols to protect patient data 


A Radiology Information System (RIS) is a root system used for electronic management by imaging departments. A RIS is a radiology-specific software solution for procuring, storing, and sharing medical imaging data. The software can be used with a Hospital Information System (HIS) and Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS).


On the whole, RIS provide many immediate benefits that can help provide a faster and more reliable way to handle patient information. The most noticeable benefits include:

  • Provides a comprehensive service model for patient care
  • Expedites physician work and improves inter-physician communications
  • Offers real-time patient tracking
  • Improves workflow management
  • Helps provide quicker diagnosis
  • Increases revenue and patient satisfaction


Depending on the RIS setup that best suits your practice, you might enjoy features such as:

  • Scheduling and tracking: Access patient history, track statuses, and process patient registrations as well as appoint scheduling from one system.
  • Document management: Quickly access patient files through interactive documents that can help improve inter-physician communications to speed up diagnosis.
  • Image identification: To ensure patient data is correctly stored, RIS systems let physicians input the appropriate images to each patient and allow easier identification. 
  • Billing and reporting: As a comprehensive system, RIS can provide centered billing and reporting by storing financial records, automated billing, and processing electronic payments. 

Pros and Cons


  • Faster, more reliable system to handle patient information.
  • Improves patient care and inter-physician communication.
  • Streamlines operational procedures and digitalizes paperwork.


  • Security concerns when introducing a new system to your network.
  • There’s a learning curve for staff and physicians. 
  • Might need hardware systems upgrades before implementation.

Key Takeaways:

  • The main difference between PACS and RIS lies in their essential functions; PACS focus more on picture archiving and communications, while RIS systems offer a comprehensive radiology system. Nonetheless, these both healthcare informatics systems work best together. 
  • Radiology practices that fail to digitize their patient’s records and images risk losing patients who are now aware of more efficient options.

Before implementing a new radiology information system, ensure you go with a vendor with experience developing RIS systems with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

How Nuvodia Helps Radiology Teams Win with PACS and RIS Solutions

It’s difficult to imagine any radiology practice that wouldn’t benefit from PACS and RIS solutions. At Nuvodia, we provide expert consulting services to help you secure your imaging data. Our imaging solution employs the latest security updates and can encrypt data to protect your health information. With Nuvodia, radiology teams benefit from:

  • Proactive monitoring 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Bundled solutions designed for radiology providers
  • Fully-hosted managed solutions
  • Hardware, software, backups, and security solutions
  • End-user and IT technical support
  • Easy-to-use and personalized interfaces

The benefits of computerized patient records are so numerous that any stakeholder should be convinced.