The Future of Diagnostic Imaging: Top Takeaways from SIIM 2016


The Future of Diagnostic Imaging at SIIM 2016Each year, the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine holds an annual meeting. It’s a three-day convention dedicated to the cutting edge of diagnostic imaging, featuring presentations from expert clinicians, scientists, and health IT providers.

SIIM 2016 included three packed days of valuable programming. We sat down with three health care experts who attended and between them covered all the key trends and takeaways:

1. Don Dennison, Director-at-Large on the SIIM Board of Directors

2. Tomer Levy, General Manager of Workflow and Infrastructure at Change Healthcare

3. Ashish Sant, General Manager of Radiology at Change Healthcare.

Read on to see what topics dominated the discussion, what trends imaging clinicians should look out for in the short-term and long-term, and what innovations might drive the future of diagnostic imaging.

SIIM 2016 Q&A with Don Dennison

Dennison is the Director-at-Large on the SIIM Board of Directors, and is President of his own consulting business, Don K Dennison Solutions Inc. He also chairs the ACR Committee on Informatics Industry Activities and the ACR Connect Committee.

Medical Imaging Talk: What emerging trends in medical imaging were prevalent at SIIM this year? Has much changed since SIIM 2015?

Dennison: The SIIM Annual Meeting always offers a glimpse into the near future for imaging informatics, and SIIM 2016 was no exception.

As it did at SIIM 2015, enterprise imaging continues to attract much interest as organizations seek to provide diagnostic and clinical imaging management and access across the enterprise. This includes methods to capture still images and video from a multitude of devices, along with important clinical and procedural information.

Machine and deep learning, covered in the General Closing Session by Dr. Eliot Siegel and the focus of a special fall 2016 SIIM meeting, are hot new topics that are sparking a lot of discussion, specifically around the state of the technology, how it might be applied within medical imaging, and what professional and ethical implications come with it. Use of this technology in commercially available medical imaging products is very limited today.

Medical Imaging Talk: What do you think will be the most important areas of focus for imaging clinicians and their health care organizations in the near future?

Dennison: As health care provider mergers, acquisitions, and strong affiliations continue, consolidated enterprises are increasingly interested in patient identity domain integration, enterprise-wide reading workflow optimization, and imaging record quality assurance, including procedure code and body part normalization. Also, integration of information from EMRs within imaging workflows, and imaging within the EMR, will continue to be priorities.

SIIM 2016 Q&A with Tomer Levy

Tomer Levy is the General Manager of Workflow and Infrastructure at Change Healthcare. He also reports on diagnostic imaging on the Medical Imaging Talk Blog, and presented at the UKRC Future of Imaging Congress 2016.

Medical Imaging Talk: What were the biggest overarching topics of discussion at SIIM 2016?

Levy: It seems like the discussion is shifting toward enterprise imaging. It’s interesting that as the VNA market has evolved to enterprise imaging, the entire industry is starting to actually define the term. It has been a vague term with many different interpretations.

People realized that enterprise imaging is more than just an enterprise archive for PACS systems. It’s about being the storage management for all imaging needs in health care facilities and recognizing there are more workflows than just in radiology.

Along the same line of the maturity of enterprise imaging, people started to talk about VNAs not just in the sense of cost savings and efficiency, but also what would be the value for patient care. How could VNA implementation lead to better outcomes? Could the value be in terms of eliminating redundant procedures, the completeness of patient records to improve diagnoses, or access to prior health issues?

All that should be the measures of success for VNA implementation. It’s not just necessarily a cost saving initiative. It started as a question of, “How do I save cost in storage?” You can see now the story has evolved into something bigger that isn’t directly tied to only cost-saving.

Medical Imaging Talk: What was a particularly interesting panel or presentation you attended?

Levy: The Whiteboard Session on Analytics. It was interesting to see how wide the topic of analytics is and how it is not defined yet, so there is a potential to take it in many directions.

They picked a made-up scenario and the teams were asked to design an analytic solution for the problem, to answer different needs. It was interesting to see how quickly the scope of analytics can expand.

Medical Imaging Talk: Based on what you saw at SIIM 2016, what changes should imaging clinicians expect in the immediate future?

Levy: I would say that if the trends are accurate, imaging will become bigger than just radiology. Radiology could end up being ONE of the contributors to the imaging scenario. Radiology won’t be the only player on the platform as it won’t be their domain alone; it will serve many stakeholders in the hospital that previously didn’t have a say in decision making.

For example, surgeons can use high-resolution CT imaging and advanced imaging software to do more comprehensive surgical planning. Combine high quality images with 3D printing, and you have the potential to create cost-effective prosthetics.

The expansion of imaging’s role will affect both clinicians and vendors. Hopefully we will see it reflected more in these conferences that now apply to different stakeholders beyond radiology.

Medical Imaging Talk: What innovations did you see that may play a role in the future of patient-centered care?

Levy: We met with smaller companies that had solutions for dashboards, workflow and analytics. One of the trends that’s developing is with the adoption of enterprise imaging as a platform, and EMR as the platform of non-imaging data; it reopens the door for small niche players to start integrating into these platforms.

Previously, the small players would get kicked out of the discussion because it was all about the integration of data and sharing of information. People expected big solutions, like a full CVIS solution or a complete EMR.

But now niche companies that are playing with those platforms and interfaces can start showing up in the game and provide value in a very niche part of the product as an expert in a very narrow space. All of a sudden, they don’t have to hold any of the data, they can just interoperate with different platforms. I believe this will lead to a best-of-breed approach in the market.

SIIM 2016 Q&A with Ashish Sant

Ashish Sant is the General Manager of Radiology at Change Healthcare and is a regular contributor to radiology topics on the Medical Imaging Talk blog.

Medical Imaging Talk: What overarching theme(s) did you encounter at SIIM this year?

Sant: I heard three main themes throughout the conference:

  1. Interoperability Standards: Standards for information sharing need to be more consistently implemented. We hear a lot about storage as the main pain point of data, but standards between vendors is a bigger problem. Improved implementation of standards across hospitals and vendors would allow for improved interoperability.
  2. Meaningful Data: There is a corporate drive for radiologists to explain the value they bring and to meet their reading quota while balancing patient care. To do that, they need meaningful data to measure quality metrics.
  3. Enterprise Imaging: Right now enterprise imaging is mostly centered on radiology. This discussion is around building a patient-centric, outcome-based system. To do so will require collaboration among physicians, and for medical images to go beyond department lines, which requires an enterprise imaging platform.

Medical Imaging Talk: Based on what you saw at the conference, what are some long-term changes that imaging clinicians can expect?

Sant: Machine learning and its impact on diagnostic imaging is an interesting development. We will see more automated reading, reporting, and decision-making solutions being developed by various researchers and companies. The initial focus will likely be in the areas that are easy to automate but we will increasingly see machine learning algorithms in play in a complimentary role to the Radiologists.

Medical Imaging Talk: What innovations did you see that may play a role in patient-centric care in the future?

Sant:  Leveraging imaging intelligence – the ability to get to the right data quickly, in the context of an individual patient, and then applying that knowledge intelligently to the imaging information at hand – will play an important role in the future, as patient data has expanded dramatically in the past few years. Helping Radiologists and clinicians get to the relevant data quickly is essential for better and more cost-effective health care.

Mobile devices are also increasingly prevalent, which should enable more collaboration between radiologists and clinicians as well as the ability to share images and reports with patients.

Finally, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) may play a role in faster diagnosis and help remove some of the subjectivity from interpretation.

The Future Is Connected

Based on what we saw at SIIM this year, the future of diagnostic imaging will bring advances in connectivity, interoperability, and efficiency. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are beginning to edge into the discussion, but still need plenty of development to realize their potential. Right now, the challenge is developing standards that will allow our current hardware and software tools to communicate more effectively.

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