Radiology Apps to Watch in 2020

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Which apps will be the most useful to radiologists in the New Year?

Whether you’re looking for an app to help you study for your radiology exams, or one that is FDA-approved to support clinical diagnoses, look no further than consumer app stores and AI marketplaces. Radiologists can find more than 260 Android apps on Google Play and hundreds more in the Apple Store and other operating systems’ app stores.

Which radiology apps will be the most useful in 2020? That’s a subjective question that would yield a very long list! But to help you sort through the growing number of radiology apps, Everything Rad has identified a few worth checking out in 2020. The apps support AI, patient-centric care, and continuing education for radiologists.

AI apps

The focus for 2020 and into 2021 for AI radiology apps will be in diagnosis, detection, screening, and scheduling solutions, according to the AI Healthcare 2020 Leadership Survey Report. The report also found that developing the next generation of radiology tools ranked “No. 3 on the list of highest priorities for AI across healthcare. Automated image diagnosis also ranks fourth among the AI apps that healthcare organizations are already using.” (1)

According to the report, these are the top 5 AI app categories used by radiologists:

Doctor holding tablet with medical illustrations, text on bottom of image "Radiology apps to watch in 2020"
There are literally hundreds of apps for radiologists. Which ones are worth watching in 2020?
  1. Breast imaging
  2. Chest X-rays
  3. Cardiothoracic imaging
  4. Neuroradiology
  5. Cardiovascular imaging

Patient-centric apps in radiology

Healthcare providers are turning to technology to humanize the healthcare experience. For this reason, apps that help patients understand their diagnoses will continue to be on the rise. One way is to simplify radiology images for patients and to personalize the viewing experience.

One new app that stands out, both for its intent and unique delivery, is the Mixing Cup app, created by Dr. Mike Winkler, a radiologist at the University of Kentucky (UK) who has a background in fine art. Radiology Business reports that Dr. Winkler produces beautiful, fully rendered 3-D visualizations that are so realistic that general practitioners and patients can quickly see what is happening in their bodies. After developing visualizations, Dr. Winkler saw the value in sending those images directly to mobile phones and tablets so that doctors and patients could view them. Working with a computer science student, Dr. Winkler’s app uses technology that compresses radiology files to a size that can be sent to a phone or tablet (2). It is offered free to radiologists.

Learning apps

Ongoing technology advancements require ongoing learning. Whether you are a practicing radiologist, a student or an educator, smart phone apps can help keep your neurons firing. 

The Department of Radiology at the University of Washington highlights several free apps for radiology education (3) including “Radiology 2.0: One Night in the ED,” that simulates reading scans at a PACS workstation; and “Radiopaedia” that gives users access to high-quality medical imaging datasets.

Or test your skills with the “Surgical Radiology” app (4) created by DD Surgical for the Department of Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network, available in the Apple App store. 

Another highly rated teaching app is “Cardiac Imaging Planes 1-2-3”.  The app, “concisely provides guidance in creating a standardized assessment of cardiac anatomy and function using cardiac computed tomography (CT) imaging,” according to the Journal of Digital Imaging in its review. (5)  By mirroring standard views utilized in cardiac MRI and echocardiography, students or trainees can accurately create cardiac imaging planes.

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FDA-approved and -reviewed apps

Which apps are reviewed by the FDA? According to ITN (6), it is apps that “1) could potentially have an impact on patient safety, such as radiation dose calculators, or 2) turn a mobile device into a regulated medical device, such as one accessing software that requires 510(k) approval.” Unregulated medical mobile apps include those designated for patient education, fitness tracking, and apps for clinical reference and/or training.

Developing any medical app – and getting FDA approval for it – is a complex and painstaking process, for good reason. However, “AI marketplaces” are showing promise as a tool for bringing radiology AI from trials into FDA-approved apps for day-to-day practice, according to an article in The Harvard Business Journal (7).

The marketplace model includes a built-in feedback channel between developers and users to bridge the gap between the technical functionality of algorithms and how they are actually used in everyday practice. It is likely that radiologists, through their use and review of apps, will provide input to software companies and help shape the technology and workflow for the most-widely used apps.

So in addition to exploring new radiology apps in 2020, consider providing your feedback to the developers. This will help them mold new apps into the learning and diagnostic tools you crave for continuing education, and those you need to help improve efficiency and possibly diagnosis in medical imaging.

What are your favorite radiology apps for 2020? Please share your suggestions!

Continue reading:
  1. AI Healthcare 2020 Leadership Survey Report
  2. Radiology Business
  3. The Department of Radiology at the University of Washington
  4. Surgical Radiology App
  5. Cardiac Imaging Planes: Brunetti, R. & Choi, A. J Digital Imaging (2018) 31:765 published in cooperation with the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine
  6. ITNOnline
  7. Harvard Business Journal


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