Radiology's future: 'Whoever has the best data wins'

Radiologists need to plan for a future where "whoever has the best data wins," according to an article in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Informatics becomes more important with each advance in technology, and the ability to shape the future could be more important than a new piece of imaging equipment, the authors say.

In the past, hospitals had no or few clinical IT staff, and radiology IT prospered with few limitations and constraints. With the rise of radiology information systems (RIS), picture archiving systems, electronic health records and clinical decision support systems, hospitals now are focused on enterprise standardization, with loss of local control and flexibility in radiology, the authors say.

The future will require imaging informatics experts with IT and data science knowledge, as well as deep radiology domain experience. These radiologist informatics subspecialists will need strong support from radiology and enterprise senior management.

While the IT department will handle running IT hardware and software, radiology leaders need to address innovation, planning and developing strategy around informatics, they say.

The future will involve reusing existing data, predicting delivery and maintenance processes. That means radiologists must get a seat in the enterprise C-suite to influence enterprise IT decisions and provide the radiology-specific IT knowledge needed to drive IT solutions that optimize radiology quality and efficiency.

Radiology departments are using data analytics in a number of ways. To reduce patient exposure to radiation, the University of Washington School of Medicine uses dose tracking technology to pull information from multiple imaging devices, then sort it into a database.

Kevin McEnery, director of innovation in imaging informatics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, told FierceMedicalImaging that he expects RIS systems to evolve along with the need for coordinated care, but also in tracking workflow steps, so as to enable comparisons between institutions.

To learn more:
- read the article