Top 3 Medical Imaging Insights from RSNA 2023

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AI tools to put to work today; and strategies to address staffing issues and operational costs.

This year’s annual Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference came at what felt like a pivotal moment in the medical imaging world. After three years primarily defined by the pandemic and its aftershocks, we are solidly in the post-pandemic phase. Yet medical imaging teams still face significant changes and pressures. How are radiology departments prioritizing these myriad challenges? And where are technology partners seeing the most powerful potential to help with innovative tools? Here is a look at three major trends that were a focus at the RSNA conference.

#1: All things AI

It’s no surprise that AI continued to be a hot topic at RSNA 2023. AI is getting highly publicized in every industry right now. In medical imaging and diagnostics, advanced image recognition has profound applications in medical imaging and diagnostics.

There were lots of exciting discussions around the future potential of AI—especially how capabilities in five or ten years may completely redefine what’s possible in medical imaging. We have been discussing these capabilities at RSNA for the past several years.

But at RSNA 2023, part of the focus was on AI advances that are changing how radiographers work today—for example, continuing to help us balance the goal of capturing the most information possible in an image without excessive radiation dose.

Learn how Carestream’s solutions can help you tackle your biggest challenges.

AI tools that enable radiographers to separate noise from an image already exist today. These software applications can dramatically improve dose efficiency, delivering image quality and utility at the lowest dose possible. AI also can help with specific elements of image enhancement, such as automatically removing or suppressing the appearance of bone to enhance soft-tissue visualization.

Many attendees were looking for ways AI can enable imaging teams to drive bottom-line efficiencies. Speedier workflows powered by AI—as well as automation—have the potential to get diagnostic images into the hands of radiologists and physicians quicker so that they can begin a course of treatment for their patients. They also free up more time for human interaction with patients—the little things like holding a patient’s hand or asking more questions that play a significant role in improving the patient’s experience.

#2: Tackling staffing shortages

Staffing shortages were a very salient topic at RSNA 2023. Reeling from pandemic burnout and the ongoing, overwhelming turnover of the older generation, the pressure on understaffed radiology teams keeps ratcheting up. More medical imaging teams are teetering on the edge of the burnout cycle where overstressed staff leave, exacerbating the shortage further. This issue impacts patient care through longer waits for imaging, delays in diagnosis, and possible delays in treatment that can affect patient care outcomes.

Here are some strategies to consider from radiology administrators on the front lines.

Creativity and flexibility are crucial to solving staffing challenges. For one, radiology departments need to look beyond pay. Compensation conversations increasingly focus on non-monetary benefits. Radiology staff want more work flexibility and greater control over their schedules, and some do not want to be on call.

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Cross-training also needs to be more prominent in medical imaging staffing strategies. Staff trained in broader responsibilities can help teams find efficiencies by adapting to different modalities. It can also build the agility that allows healthcare workers to respond more effectively to changes, including demand surges and acute staff shortages.

Some medical imaging teams are leaning into workflow automation tools to cut down on labor-intensive manual workflows. For example, an AI-powered “smart” exposure technique automatically sets the appropriate acquisition technique based on the detected patient size. This technology minimizes the radiographer’s manual workload while helping to ensure that the best possible image is captured. Room automation features help promote optimal positioning before exposure—significantly reducing retakes for a more efficient exam experience.

A final suggestion from administrators: look more closely at volume patterns, and consider adapting hours of operation and optimizing staffing accordingly.

#3: Optimizing operational costs

Closely related to #2, operational efficiency was another pressing topic at RSNA 2023. The broader financial pressures facing healthcare organizations are part of the staffing shortage puzzle. Changing reimbursement models and price transparency rules continue to accelerate the consumerization of healthcare, meaning more healthcare organizations are effectively competing for patient volume based on cost. This has also contributed to placing massive pressure on margins and efficiency. Macroeconomic headwinds—sustained inflation, rising rates, and recession worries—all lead to an underlying anxiety putting spending on hold.

With this financial environment leading many healthcare organizations to prioritize operational efficiency, the exhibit hall will include many new features and technologies to enhance throughput of patients in medical imaging.

To enable faster throughput with fewer staff, I expect to see more imaging departments looking closely at whether they are using their current technologies’ efficiency features entirely. I suggest you talk to your equipment provider about applications training and other options to ensure your staff are fully trained in how (and why) to use these efficient workflows and capabilities. The faster way should be easier, but we all know that if staff are not comfortable, they will default to the old (slower) way.

We’re in this together

Some of the best things about conferences like RSNA are the networking and discussions that happen outside the sessions. Providers and vendors shared fundamental interests and concerns. We all know that medical imaging is more critical than ever in health care. Additionally, patients deserve the best possible diagnostic imaging as quickly as possible so they can get the proper diagnosis and begin the right treatment promptly. Ultimately, participating in conversations around collaboration and innovation can help the industry achieve these shared goals.

About the author

Vincent Chan is President and General Manager of Digital Radiography at Carestream Health.

A version of this article previously appeared in DOTmed magazine.


  • reply

    Majid ghanbari birgani

    Hello, I have a master’s degree in medical physics, and I have several years of clinical work experience and working with medical imaging devices in different hospitals.I am willing, if you wish, in the nearest regional agency as your company’s application specialist to train users who work with your devices.Please let me know if you accept my request and if you need active and experienced personnel in this matter


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