3 key ways imaging professionals can influence the implementation of AI

Medical imaging professionals and radiation experts are in a position to play a significant role as AI technologies continue to evolve, according to a new commentary published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences.

“Advancements in deep learning, particularly within the field of image analysis, combined with improved computational power, are changing the way health care is both managed and perceived,” wrote authors Andrew Murphy, department of medical imaging at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and Brian Liszewski, department of radiation oncology at the University of Toronto.

The two authors explored the various responsibilities of medical imaging providers in this new world where so much revolves around the evolution of AI. These are three specific ways, according to Murphy and Liszewski, that such specialists can make a difference going forward:

1. Provide leadership when installing, implementing specific AI solutions

As AI technologies become more commonly used, health systems everywhere will find themselves selecting which solutions they want to use—and many of them will have no clue what they are talking about. Imaging professionals, however, can weigh the advantages and disadvantages of any option, considering all the different angles.

“Our experience as medical imaging professionals is invaluable when assessing the viability of AI tools,” the authors wrote. “Efficiencies gained through AI can be capitalized on in several ways, and objectives related to ‘more time with patients’ could be in direct competition with objectives related to reduced wait times or higher throughput.”

2. Be confident and be heard

“With this field of innovation rushing toward widespread implementation, it is not unreasonable to feel a sense of helplessness,” the authors wrote. “One unfortunate characteristic of our profession seems to be the tendency to underestimate the influence we can have on our own work environments. So how do we, as a community, ensure we do not stand idly by during this technological revolution?”

The answer, they explained, is to speak up and make a real impact. Imaging professionals, perhaps more than any other medical specialists, are often tasked with leading when new trends or technologies are introduced in a healthcare environment. With all of that experience already under their belts, they should raise their voices and stand up for positive change whenever necessary.

“If a new application changes practice, why not audit that change and publish it?” the authors asked. “If a vendor's promise seems suspiciously ambitious, who better to enquire and advise than the professionals operating their product daily?”

3. Develop meaningful strategies

Professional groups such as the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists and European Federation of Radiographer Societies “must develop their own strategies for approaching AI,” the authors wrote. Their members will likely be asked to play a key role in implementing AI strategies, so it makes sense that the societies themselves share their knowledge and release white papers, position statements and educational assistance whenever needed.

“Some medical radiation professionals are already consulting with industry organizations, publishing AI-related research and playing an active role in ensuring AI is used safely and responsibly,” the authors wrote. “Professional organizations and members alike should look to these individuals for inspiration as to how we, as a profession, can improve.”