Introducing iRefer8 - updated diagnostic imaging guidelines for referring clinicians

Wednesday 24 May 2017

The Royal College of Radiologists is proud to unveil the newest version of its radiology guidelines entitled iRefer: Making the best use of clinical radiology, designed to help primary and secondary care clinicians choose the most appropriate imaging tests for patients.

We have been producing imaging referral guidelines since 1989, with the key aim of helping clinicians refer patients for the right imaging test, at the right time, while managing exposure to radiation.

The eighth iteration, available online and in print, features more than 280 detailed, condition-specific guidelines designed for easy use by doctors, GPs, radiologists, physiotherapists, dentists and other referring clinicians.     

iRefer8 has been developed by more than 300 practising radiologists from across the UK. Along with updated rolling guidance, it features over 20 new sets of imaging referral guidelines on topics including male breast lumps, lung cancer screening and individual health assessments for lung cancer, ovarian cysts and fibroid disease.

Other new features include:

  • Personalised “MyRefer” list creation – users can create lists of guidelines most relevant to their practice 
  • Improved search functionality – the ability to search by specialty or modality, key word or Radiology Information System code 
  • Key evidence and related guidance from the RCR, NICE and international radiology leaders
  • Guidance on asymptomatic individuals: screening/assessment – which is helpful to both the asymptomatic individual seeking imaging assessment, and for policy makers who are planning screening programmes

Dr Nicola Strickland, President of The Royal College of Radiologists, said:

“The new version of iRefer puts prevailing imaging best practice straight into the hands of busy clinicians. Our rigorously evidence-based guidelines are designed to steer clinicians towards getting the most appropriate and cost-effective tests requested first time.

“Using iRefer guidelines to ensure best practice gives clinicians the potential to diagnose earlier, reduce unnecessary testing and streamline referrals; giving patients better, quicker diagnoses with less associated stress and diagnostic radiation risk.”

The objectives of iRefer8 also compliment various sector initiatives which promote appropriate use of diagnostics; including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ “Choosing Wisely” campaign, as well as the Scottish Chief Medical Officer’s “Realising Realistic Medicine” review.

iRefer8 is available online via annual subscription, with prices starting at £90 for single users, with sliding discounts available for bulk subscriptions.  

The College has also teamed up with clinical decision support (CDS) experts MedCurrent to create a CDS interface for iRefer8, designed to work seamlessly with hospital electronic patient record and GP requesting systems. The iRefer8 CDS will be piloted at GP surgeries and hospital sites in the UK, as well as overseas. In addition, the RCR will be making iRefer8 available as an Android and iOS app later this year.  

To subscribe online or to find out more about iRefer8, please visit:

To help pilot the iRefer CDS tool in your practice or hospital, please contact