2018 Trends in Radiology—A Year of Development and Maturity

Artificial Intelligence, 3D printing, and Internet of Things continue to trend in 2018.

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To see the new trends in radiology in 2018, just take a look back at 2017. AI has come a long way; wearables have become every day, 3D printing has matured, and IoT is, well, meh.

Where is Artificial Intelligence (AI) in radiology today?

This year, AI is gaining in respect and stature among radiology professionals. Last year in Everything Rad, we reported that AI inspired a mixture of wonder and fear among the radiology community. We referred to Dr. Eliot Siegel who believes that radiologists should embrace AI technology as a way to provide a more insightful interpretation adding value to reports that can have a positive impact on outcomes. (Watch video of Dr. Siegel talking with Carestream about AI in radiology at SIIM last year.) A number of extreme points of view were prevalent, from “This will be the end of radiology as we know it”, to “This is the beginning of a new era in radiology.”

Loading bar depicting 2017 to 2018.

Radiology trends in 2018 are maturation of trends that emerged in 2017.

At RSNA 2017, Dr. Keith Dreyer (vice chair of radiology and director of the Center for Clinical Data Science at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and chair of the American College of Radiology’s Commission on Informatics) told us, “Machines are getting smarter and faster than people are.” He recommended developing use cases in which AI can inform imaging studies.

Already today, Carestream is applying imaging analytics to help detect potential abnormalities on current imaging exams in addition to conducting retrospective analyses of previous imaging studies. This allows imaging studies to be screened for conditions that may be asymptomatic, such as osteoporosis, emphysema, coronary artery calcifications and abnormal fat deposition in the liver.

AI is thriving in part because of the availability and popularity of open source AI software such as Tensor Flow (1) (developed by Google), MXNet (2) (available on Amazon Web Services and backed by Microsoft and University of Washington). There are literally dozens of other available software solutions (many of them open source) for everything from analytics and business intelligence to help with machine learning for modelling, data scoring, speech recognition, content generation, and image analysis and tagging. And IBM Watson (3) is offering to help the healthcare industry with population health management, drug discovery, genomics, and peer group performance benchmarking among other virtually unlimited possibilities.

Watch this space for future articles on the progress of artificial intelligence and its many uses by the radiology community ranging from mammography (4) to population health analytics based on hospital libraries of imaging studies. Our prediction is that AI is here to stay, and the radiology departments that embrace it will become more productive, more collaborative, and better partners in value-based care than those who remain on the sidelines.

Wearable technology is a part of our culture, and a part of healthcare

With 6.6 million smart watches shipped in the third quarter of 2017 alone, (5) and more expected to fly off shelves in the busy year-end holiday season, wearables are booming. In healthcare, hospitals and other healthcare providers are managing programs to promote good health, based on the wearables’ ability to track activity and measure trends to achieve healthier lifestyles.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has embarked on an 8-week clinical trial (6) using Fitbit to help pediatric patients participate successfully in a weight-loss program. In a fall prevention program at the University of Houston, Bluetooth-enabled sensors collect information and provide biofeedback to smartphones that help patients adjust their body position. At Carolinas HealthCare System, trackers feed data to a dashboard that allows physicians to help patients reach their individualized goals. Seniors’ use of technology (7) has increased significantly. Four out of ten seniors now own a smartphone, as well as over 80% of seniors with an income of $75K and up.

3D printing at RSNA 2017 and beyond

You know 3D printing has come of age for medical products when the FDA releases guidance. Aunt Minnie quoted FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb (8), who said in announcing the guidance, “3D printing is certain to alter the daily practice of medicine where patients will be treated with medical products manufactured specifically for them.” While 3D printing is not the new toy it was last year, still the RSNA 3D Printing Special Interest Group presentations attracted standing-room-only crowds at RSNA 2017—like the presentation of the University of Maryland study (9) using 3D printing as “a way to create customized prostheses for patients with conductive hearing loss.”

The Internet of Things (IoT) is now an essential part of our infrastructure

As more devices connect to the network, a common occurrence not likely to let up any time soon, the health IT infrastructure needs to change to accommodate these ubiquitous devices. It is a challenging task both to assure security, and store the data streaming forth from the plethora of connected devices including wearables and other equipment. Healthcare IT professionals, while aware of the power of the available data to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction, must still figure out how to manage it.

HIT Infrastructure Weekly states it clearly (10): IoT impacts every aspect of health IT infrastructure. Organizations that do not consider their entire infrastructure when implementing an IoT device may find themselves with devices that don’t function properly or aren’t secure.  Fully supporting IoT devices is critical for healthcare cybersecurity success.

Value-based care is changing healthcare for the better

As we look ahead at 2018, the drive to achieve better outcomes at lower cost—through collaboration, innovation, and technology—has never been stronger. Artificial Intelligence, wearables, and 3D printing will remain important trends in 2018, but you can be sure that they will be focused on applications that not only increase productivity, but also lead to better outcomes.

How will your organization use AI, IoT, and 3D printing to improve outcomes in 2018?

Les Campbell is a sales manager with Carestream Healthcare Information Systems. He has nearly 30 years of  experience in radiology and cardiology in various roles including sales, product development, implementation and applications. Les has a broad education background including electrical engineering and business administration, which blend well in the healthcare information systems industry.

#EverythingRad #RSNA17






1 Tensor Flow //www.tensorflow.org/

2 MXNet //www.geekwire.com/2016/amazon-web-services-says-open-source-mxnet-will-foundation-future-ai-services/

3 IBM Watson //www.ibm.com/blogs/watson-health/

4 Aunt Minnie //www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=log&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.auntminnie.com%2findex.aspx%3fsec%3dsup%26sub%3dwom%26pag%3ddis%26ItemID%3d117752

5 Smart watches shipped //www.macrumors.com/2017/11/30/apple-watch-market-share-3q17/

6 Clinical Trial //healthtechmagazine.net/article/2017/11/3-healthcare-organizations-call-wearables-take-patient-care-next-level

7 Seniors use of technology //www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/

8 Dr. Scott Gottlieb //www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=log&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.auntminnie.com%2findex.aspx%3fsec%3dsup%26sub%3dadv%26pag%3ddis%26itemid%3d119319

9University of Maryland Study //press.rsna.org/timssnet/Media/pressreleases/14_pr_target.cfm?id=1970

10 HIT Infrastructure Weekly //hitinfrastructure.com/news/how-the-internet-of-things-impacts-health-it-infrastructure