Will artificial intelligence replace radiologists?

Over the years of speaking with Medical Imaging Professionals, a topic arises every now and then, Will artificial intelligence replace radiologists?

Radiologist Redundancy?

Some medical students have decided not to pursue a career in radiology as they feel that the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) within the role of a radiologist would make their profession redundant.

This is probably not the case as radiologists will still have a huge part to play in the medical imaging world. Yes, the role will change. From my research into the market blending AI with the work of radiologists, it will have a big impact on the future of medical imaging. Individuals who do not embrace the use of AI may be left behind. Whereas Radiologists who do use AI will keep up with new technology and best practices. These individuals will have a major part to play in transforming medical imaging.

Radiologists do so much more than just describing images. This means that AI cannot and will not completely take over the role of a radiologist.

Artificial Intelligence image taken from institute of radiologist, 2019.

Medical Imaging

Millions of medical images are created in the course of diagnosis. Every advance in scanning technology brings the potential for finer detail. The thinness of image capture becomes more and more possible. 3D- and 4D-imaging technologies will become increasingly prevalent. The amount of data will continue to grow further as a result. AI can readily process this vast quantity of data efficiently and accurately. This provides medical professionals with more accurate diagnostic information. This in turn will free up their valuable time to focus on the most critical tasks.

I read an article in the GE Newsroom recently (reference 1). Their CEO said “hospitals are producing 50 petabytes of data per year. A staggering 90 percent of all healthcare data comes from medical imaging. It’s a lot of information, and more than 97 percent of it goes unanalysed or unused.”

Early Detection of Lung Cancer Assisted by Artificial Intelligence.

The Value of AI

In my opinion, the cost of only 3% of medical imaging being used is a huge cost to the healthcare market. Artificial intelligence is very important in dealing with the overflow of data in healthcare and medical imaging.

Implementing artificial intelligence can read images at a rate much quicker than any healthcare professional ever could. In certain instances, which GE touched upon, AI will prove to be incredibly valuable in improving rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Medical imaging and radiology are a huge cost and viable options to reduce this cost should always be considered.

The drive to reduce costs often starts with trying to reduce human labour which I feel isn’t the best solution. The solution I feel would benefit both radiologists and patients would be to improve medical imaging. This is where artificial intelligence comes in.

AI-enhanced medical imaging systems can produce scans that help radiologists identify patterns in the human body and help them treat patients with serious conditions more quickly. This means the images produced will be more accurate and the quality of care will continuously improve for patients.

Thank you for reading.

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