Advanced technologies have invaded almost every aspect of life and the healthcare field is no exception to this invasion. Artificial intelligence (AI) has erupted across several industries in the last few years and its impact on the healthcare sector, especially in medical imaging and radiology, is very evident. It has a vast potential in medical imaging ranging from enhanced diagnosis and improved workflow to a revolutionary transformation in the role of a radiologist.

The Need of the Hour for Radiologists

In today’s medical field, radiologists yearn for a bigger role – a role that gives them a say in the management of patients – preferably something that goes all the way from diagnosis to treatment follow-up. They are in a position where they need to prove that their involvement contributes a lot to the clinical value if they want to earn the desired importance.

The best way to achieve this objective is to enhance patient outcomes and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be the route to accomplish this.

Artificial Intelligence All Set to Create a Monumental Impact

Artificial intelligence has caught the attention of medical professionals over the past few years as many big research hospitals and companies like QuEST Global are working to perfect this technology for medical imaging.

It has started proving itself to be a very strong support to the radiologists by taking the responsibility of handling tasks that could otherwise take up a whole workday of these professionals. With the vast applications that this technology is finding in the medical field, its impact is likely to be monumental.

AI, along with its branches deep learning and machine learning, has already been bringing about a drastic change in medical imaging. There are new researches and developments happening. Though all these are oriented towards the future, it’s also creating a significant buzz at present and holds the potential for better diagnosis. In turn, this implies that in future the clinical need for radiology and its importance will increase drastically and the future will probably hold a completely different role for radiologists.

How Will AI Revolutionize Medical Imaging?

AI will deal with the challenges faced by the medical imaging field today and bring about a positive transformation. Here’s how Artificial Intelligence is likely to change the way in which medical imaging is perceived and delivered:

  • Automated Interpretation of Images

A general AI with the capability of request interpretation, doing complicated perceptual and sorting assignments, and later framing a meaningful report is still far off. As of now, these tasks are performed by humans, but it is highly challenging for machines at present. Like the other fields, medical imaging has to plan cleverly for a future wherein AI can assist the diagnostic team. In future, this technology can take up tasks that make the job of a radiologist easier.

  • Support Radiologists in Their Decisions

Few years down the lane, radiologists will still go on with doing a major part of interpreting images. Besides the capabilities of a trained human to interpret subtle and complex discoveries on diagnostic pictures, radiologists give meaningful reports using their experience. But still, there are frequent discrepancies in reporting and in most cases human factors are the reasons. Artificial Intelligence offers several ways to enhance safety margins like understanding to recognize cases with higher error risk. Using image metadata and natural language processing could be a great step towards cutting down malpractice costs and errors by giving a decision support outline that learns continuously from global adverse events.

  • Risk Stratification

Imaging is a rich source of data for diagnosing diseases, but predicting precisely about the progress of a disease is dependent on several features at various levels, which is beyond the human perception. Automatic risk stratification could prove to be a very effective tool for identifying patients at high risk so that optimal care can be provided. Supervised machine learning is great technique for this. Machine learning improves what imaging provides and enhances the role of imaging in prognosis much beyond the usual disease staging.  In future, we might find radiologists who assimilate health data and suggest treatment plans.

In a nutshell, Artificial Intelligence in medical imaging is all set to drastically change the way in which doctors and patients interact. However, the impact that it will have will be driven by technology and economics and will be gradual rather than revolutionary. It will be a paradigm shift in how radiologists work; at the same time, it will enhance patient care and treatment results.

Written by Vinod Subramonia

on 28 Nov 2017

Vinod Subramonia Pillai is a senior technical architect at QuEST Global, currently working for the healthcare domain. He is currently involved in algorithm development for medical devices, that primarily focuses on using AI. His key interest includes visualization and image processing.