The Tech-Assisted Art of Radiology


Diagnostic imaging technologyRadiologists must welcome imaging innovations as essential tools to help improve patient care

The theme of RSNA 2015 is “Innovation is the Key to Our Future.” The selection of that theme implies that more than a few radiologists are resistant to change not only in their medical specialty but in the direction of the entire health care system.

Fear of change—ranging from the need to adapt to new technologies to being replaced by artificial intelligence—was captured brilliantly in a mock presentation by Kenneth Pierce, M.D., president of the Chicago Radiological Society, during the plenary session that opened the RSNA meeting Nov. 29.

Not surprisingly, the call to action that coursed through subsequent plenary session presentations during the first two days of the meeting was for radiologists to embrace—not fear—technological innovations, and lead—not follow—health care industry transformation. It’s a call to action that we at McKesson wholeheartedly support.

In presentation after presentation, in booth after booth, mind-blowing advances in imaging technology are everywhere at RSNA. Capabilities that were unthinkable five years ago, last year, last month and last week are commonplace. It can be overwhelming for many radiologists. But radiologists are in a better position than most medical specialties in implementing those new capabilities. That’s because they are by nature more technology focused.

In his opening address, RSNA President Ronald Arenson, M.D., said technology is the coin of the realm in healthcare’s future environment, and radiologists have plenty of those rattling around in their pockets.

The reaction by younger radiologists to the dizzying pace of imaging innovation should be: “Ah, finally!” The reaction by older radiologists should be: “Ah, I can do something with this.”

Though much of the imaging technology is getting more complex on the back end, it’s getting easier to use on the front end. That’s where a lot of the innovation is taking place. For example, we take user experience seriously with our Conserus Workflow Intelligence™ solution. The solution can be tailored to the workflow needs of individual radiologists. Yet, what’s going on behind the screens is very sophisticated and complicated.

Radiologists can partner in the development of new imaging technologies by telling us — the vendors — what they need next to improve their ability to care for patients and how best to design those new technologies. From that point on, it should be an ongoing process. It’s hard to get it right the first time, and we need radiologists to tell us how to improve what we make for them and their patients.

As for the worry that radiologists will be replaced by machines or artificial intelligence, we’re not even close to that point. I do hear radiologists say what they do is art, not science or technology, and art can’t be replaced. What they do is art, but technology can give them better tools to do a better job. The technology can change their behavior and how they do what they do. It can help them improve their performance and their productivity.

By picking up technological innovation and running with it, not away from it, radiologists can help pave the way towards helping to improve the health of their patients and their own business health.

If you are at RSNA this week, stop by McKesson Booth 1135 south hall to learn more about Conserus or visit our web site.

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