In late 2016, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) held its annual conference. Amid presentations by leading experts and showcases of gadgets galore, one message stood out: to usher in a new era of imaging, your program will have to look beyond imaging. As RSNA President Dr. Richard Baron framed in his presidential address, "We, as radiologists, must extend our gaze beyond the constraints of the image to gain a broader perspective on the patient experience."
Keep reading to get the three imperatives RSNA outlined to look beyond imaging—and what they mean for you in 2017.
Consider imaging's role in value-based care
Thanks to regulatory pressure and the commoditized nature of the field, imaging's role in value-based care is top-of-mind for leaders everywhere. It's no surprise, then, that multiple speakers at the conference emphasized this idea. For example, in her speech "Driving Value through Imaging," Dr. Vivian Lee defined the value equation as how quality and service can be combined at a reasonable cost. In another session, Dr. James Whitfill urged radiology leaders to figure out how to be on the winning side of the transition toward value.
Key Takeaway: Increasingly, radiologists will be asked to scrutinize the need for their service offerings. To stay on the right side of the value-based curve, look beyond imaging by participating in your organization's care delivery transformation initiatives. Try exploring risk-based payment models or managing your utilization, to name a few.
Lean on your (non-imaging) colleagues to improve outcomes
Due to technological advancements, radiologists are better able to detect and even treat different medical issues, like some cancers. But to best position these advancements, radiologists will need to partner with experts outside the field of radiology—within both the research and clinical settings. In her session "Prostate Cancer: Improving the Flow of Research," Dr. Colleen Lawton advocated for increased collaboration between radiologists and radiation oncologists. By doing so, the care team can improve the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of prostate cancer.
Key Takeaway: To look beyond imaging, stay up-to-date with the latest treatment trends and identify collaboration opportunities. Also, enlist your support in multidisciplinary committees, such as tumor boards, to build relationships with others.
Don't fear artificial intelligence (AI)—embrace it
Radiologists won't just be asked to collaborate with other physicians or researchers; they may have to work with AI in the future. Dr. Eric Topol gave one prediction of what this might look like. Working with pathologists, radiologists may become "information specialists," who let the machines do the reading and interpreting. For some physicians, the rise of AI has bred fear they’ll soon become obsolete. However, thought leaders like Dr. Keith Dreyer offered reassurance in "When Machines Think: Radiology's Next Frontier," stating, "Radiologists will be the centaur diagnosticians, allowing machines to make us smarter, help us do more, and give us more value."
Key Takeaway: AI will have a role to play in the future of imaging—the questions are how much and when. To look beyond imaging, embrace technological advancements and ask yourself how AI can improve your provision of high-quality care to your patients.