• News App
  • To:
  • RadiologyInfo.org Views Imaging Through the Eyes of the Patient

    October 01, 2012

    A growing number of patients are turning to the public information website RadiologyInfo.org for simple, straightforward answers to radiology questions.

    Any patient preparing for an imaging exam, whether for him- or herself or a family member, is likely to have lots of questions: Is it safe for my child to have X-rays? What are contrast materials and how do they work? Which imaging studies use anesthesia?

    For answers to these and many other questions, a growing number of patients are turning to RadiologyInfo.org, the joint RSNA-ACR (American College of Radiology) public information website launched in 2000 as a radiology information resource for patients and a patient-communication tool for referring physicians to guide their patients. A highly accurate and trusted healthcare website, RadiologyInfo.org drew approximately 8.5 million users in 2011—an increase of nearly 1 million visitors from 2010. The site attracts approximately 712,000 visitors each month.

    Members of the RSNA-ACR Public Information Website Committee that oversees RadiologyInfo.org attribute its success to one basic tenet: content must be viewed through the eyes of the patient, which means keeping information simple, straightforward and to the point.

    "When you take a step back and consider what makes a public information website successful, there are three main ingredients," said James Donaldson, M.D., chair of the Department of Medical Imaging at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, professor of radiology at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and RSNA co-chair of RadiologyInfo.org. "The content has to be relevant, you have to know how to reach the user and you have to convey the information in a way they will understand."

    This first-of-its-kind information portal specifically for radiology has delivered on all three counts and built a substantial library of resources, including mobile and social media platforms. Its Spanish version and mobile sites drew 2.2 million visitors in 2011—a 33 percent increase from 2010.

    RadiologyInfo.org now offers 127 procedure descriptions, and committee members created 55 videos among a wide array of other multimedia content. Committee members attest to the hard work and collaboration required to develop those resources from the ground up.

    "We started at square one in terms of content in 2000," said Christoph Wald, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice-chair of the Department of Radiology at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, associate professor of radiology at Tufts University Medical School in Boston and ACR co-chair of RadiologyInfo.org. "Not only did the committee have an enormous task just to catch up, we had to stay in lock step with new developments. In the last 2-3 years we have reached a point where the content is so comprehensive that we just have a few remaining gaps to fill."

    Committee members with expertise in many different radiology subspecialties select the content that is developed and then vetted by radiology experts from ACR, RSNA and other professional radiology organizations. "We also ask committee members to review and update the content every year," Dr. Wald said. "Their input and patient feedback help us to continuously refine the material."

    Disease Pages Answer "Big-Picture" Questions

    One new feature came through the realization that patients seeking radiology information also have "big picture" questions that extend beyond imaging. To address those questions and help put imaging in the proper context, the site has begun listing disease and condition descriptions, the diagnostic tests used to evaluate them and the radiologic procedures for treating them.

    "Patients may not think about imaging by the type of exam or modality but by symptom or disease," Dr. Donaldson said. "Soon a patient can go to the disease page, type in appendicitis, and get a brief, simple description of how imaging is used in evaluating that disease." Terms within the disease descriptions, such as gallbladder, for example, link to a glossary of medical terms explained in easy-to-understand language offering patients further clarification—one example of the comprehensive network of cross-linking within the site.

    Patient Safety Section Expanded

    To address patient concerns about radiation, the committee continues to enhance the site's Patient Safety section that includes information and videos on radiation exposure in X-ray and CT examinations and other topics. That section also serves as the patient-facing portion of the Image Wisely campaign sponsored by radiology associations including RSNA and ACR, to promote imaging safety for adults. Through shared human resources, RadiologyInfo.org and Image Wisely have been very effective in placing patient-directed information where it belongs while avoiding duplication, or worse, contradiction across separately created resources, said Dr. Wald, a member of the Image Wisely Steering Committee.

    To assist parents with questions about their child's examination, RadiologyInfo.org recently bolstered its pediatric-specific content—indicated by teddy bear icons throughout—and added links to the Image Gently campaign whose website promotes radiation safety practices in children.

    One (Web) Site Doesn't Fit All

    Creating an image-rich site is an ongoing goal of committee members who continually add videos, pictures, anatomical drawings, podcasts and more. "We realize that one site doesn't fit everybody and that some people like to read and some would rather watch videos," Dr. Donaldson said. "We're trying to fill as many niches as we can."

    The committee is tapping new resources including images and illustrations from the RSNA journals RadioGraphics and Radiology and the website CTisus.com, operated by one of the committee's vice co-chairs, Elliot K. Fishman, M.D., who will replace Dr. Donaldson as co-chair in 2013. "Dr. Fishman has many illustrations on his website and he's been gracious enough to let us use this as a resource," Dr. Donaldson said.

    While the site benefits from a highly effective search engine optimization strategy that consistently returns RadiologyInfo.org at the top of millions of Google hits on radiology keyword searches, getting patients to the site itself means staying on top of continually evolving communication methods, committee members said.

    "We have to match patients' communication habits," Dr. Donaldson said. "The website has branched out with Twitter and Facebook and users can subscribe to SMS and e-mail updates or RSS feeds and visit the mobile-optimized version of RadiologyInfo.org from their cell phones. We are constantly trying to optimize content." (See sidebar)

    Judging by visitor feedback, patients are happy with what they find on the website and the committee will continue to add more resources in 2013, Dr. Wald said. "The feedback is very positive," he said. "Most people love the site and are able to find what they need."

    The website continues to earn other accolades. Along with numerous past awards, RadiologyInfo.org received the 2011 Health Improvement Institute's Aesculapius Award of Excellence and a certificate from the Web Health Awards, an awards program organized by the Health Information Resource Center.

    Calling it a "great success story," both doctors attribute much of the website's success to the high level of collaboration between the two societies. "This has been a highly successful, cooperative venture between RSNA and ACR," Dr. Donaldson said. "We pool our resources and we are both dedicated to making RadiologyInfo.org the best website it can be for patients."

    Web Extras

    Videos on topics including MR Cholangiopancreatography, Children and Radiation Safety, Carotid Ultrasound, CT of the Kidneys and many others are now available on RadiologyInfo.org as part of the "Your Radiologist Explains" series.

    The video presentations feature PowerPoint slides with images and narration and are intended to help explain various radiology tests and treatments to patients. To access the videos, go to RadiologyInfo.org/vids.

    Physicians can download RadiologyInfo.org promotional posters, business cards and printable PDF versions of the various radiology procedures as handouts for patients.

    Explore RadiologyInfo.org at RSNA 2012

    RadiologyInfo.org is featured as an important patient communication tool in patient-centered radiology courses presented to radiologists at RSNA 2012. Stop by RSNA Services to get a demonstration of RadiologyInfo.org from RSNA staff members. While you're there, enter the drawing—you could win a Kindle Fire!

    black arrowhead 9 x 10 GIF Contact the editor 

    Photo of Dr. Donaldson
    Photo of Dr. Wald
    RadiologyInfo.org Disease Page
    Realizing that patients often have questions that extend beyond imaging, the RSNAACR Public Information Website Committee that oversees RadiologyInfo.org has begun listing disease and condition descriptions, the diagnostic tests used to evaluate them and the radiologic procedures for treating them (above). To assist parents with questions about their child’s examination, pediatric-specific content is now indicated with teddy bear icons throughout the site.
  • comments powered by Disqus

We appreciate your comments and suggestions in our effort to improve your RSNA web experience.

Name (required)


Email Address (required)


Comments (required)





Discounted Dues: Eligible North American Countries 
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Netherlands Antilles
St. Vincent & Grenadines
Country    Country    Country 
Afghanistan   Grenada   Pakistan
Albania   Guatemala   Papua New Guinea
Algeria   Guinea   Paraguay
Angola   Guinea-Bissau   Peru
Armenia   Guyana   Phillippines
Azerbaijan   Haiti   Rwanda
Bangladesh   Honduras   Samoa
Belarus   India   Sao Tome & Principe
Belize   Indonesia   Senegal
Benin   Iran   Serbia
Bhutan   Iraq   Sierra Leone
Bolivia   Jordan   Solomon Islands
Bosnia & Herzegovina   Jamaica   Somalia
Botswana   Kenya   South Africa
Bulgaria   Kiribati   South Sudan
Burkina Faso   Korea, Dem Rep (North)   Sri Lanka
Burundi   Kosovo   St Lucia
Cambodia   Kyrgyzstan   St Vincent & Grenadines
Cameroon   Laos\Lao PDR   Sudan
Cape Verde   Lesotho   Swaziland
Central African Republic   Liberia   Syria
Chad   Macedonia   Tajikistan
China   Madagascar   Tanzania
Colombia   Malawi   Thailand
Comoros   Maldives   Timor-Leste
Congo, Dem. Rep.   Mali   Togo
Congo, Republic of   Marshall Islands   Tonga
Cote d'Ivoire   Mauritania   Tunisia
Djibouti   Micronesia, Fed. Sts.   Turkmenistan
Dominica   Moldova   Tuvalu
Domicican Republic   Mongolia   Uganda
Ecuador   Montenegro   Ukraine
Egypt   Morocco   Uzbekistan
El Salvador   Mozambique   Vanuatu
Eritrea   Myanmar   Vietnam
Ethiopia   Namibia   West Bank & Gaza
Fiji   Nepal   Yemen
Gambia, The   Nicaragua   Zambia
Georgia   Niger   Zimbabwe
Ghana   Nigeria    

Legacy Collection 2
Radiology Logo
RadioGraphics Logo 
Tier 1

  • Bed count: 1-400
  • Associate College: Community, Technical, Further Education (UK), Tribal College
  • Community Public Library (small scale): general reference public library, museum, non-profit administration office

Tier 2

  • Bed count: 401-750
  • Baccalaureate College or University: Bachelor's is the highest degree offered
  • Master's College or University: Master's is the highest degree offered
  • Special Focus Institution: theological seminaries, Bible colleges, engineering, technological, business, management, art, music, design, law

Tier 3

  • Bedcount: 751-1,000
  • Research University: high or very high research activity without affiliated medical school
  • Health Profession School: non-medical, but health focused

Tier 4

  • Bed count: 1,001 +
  • Medical School: research universities with medical school, including medical centers

Tier 5

  • Consortia: academic, medical libraries, affiliated hospitals, regional libraries and other networks
  • Corporate
  • Government Agency and Ministry
  • Hospital System
  • Private Practice
  • Research Institute: government and non-government health research
  • State or National Public Library
  • Professional Society: trade unions, industry trade association, lobbying organization