ECR 2018: First impressions
ECR 2018 celebrated the diverse specialty of radiology with a symbolic Chinese red dragon centered at the entrance, capturing the enthusiasm, celebration, and passion for radiology at the Austria Centre Vienna. This symbol highlighted the theme for this year: “United and Diverse.” The European Congress of Radiology 2018 invited the radiological societies of China, Portugal, and Switzerland as guest nations, uniting radiologists to show diversity of the discipline. ECR 2018 hosted attendees from over 140 countries and a vast array of cultures with a record-breaking onsite participation of 22,059.
How can better clinical outcome be achieved outside of Artificial Intelligence?
The heightened pressures to maintain population health globally, without clinical practice and patient outcome being jeopardized, has stipulated the rapid surge in artificial intelligence (AI) related solutions, to shape the future of radiology and patient care.
Artificial intelligence claims to be the answer to the vast challenges radiologists face, including increased workload and the increasing need to process large datasets. Through application of deep learning algorithms and imaging protocols, scanning time is anticipated to reduce. However, there is a lack of dependable datasets to educate algorithms and a deficit of support for the creation, integration, and adoption of AI algorithms.
As speculation and uncertainty still linger in some parts of the globe as to how AI can be best integrated within radiology conventions, radiology system vendors continue to launch innovative features outside of AI. Such non-AI innovations include improving scanning time by focusing on the subject to be scanned, as opposed to the scanning system itself.
Mounting pressure of increased patient throughput restricts feasibility of re-takes and re-scans. Patient movement, caused by patient discomfort and agitation, is one of the fundamental reasons behind re-scans across different imaging modalities. Intelligence fixation tools can be used to rectify patient movement, by communicating with the imaging system to record patient movement during the scanning. If this can be used to enhance image quality, why not restrict patient movement itself? Patient movement can be minimized during scanning procedures when a patient experiences ease and comfort. For better clinical outcomes to be achieved during screening procedures, attention must be redirected to the patient.
How ECR 2018 exhibitors have put patient comfort at the forefront of product development
- Philips Healthcare launched the digital Ingenia Elition MR solution to further improve patient experience via immersive audio visuals, to calm patients and guide them through MR exams. Developments in patient experience and comfort directly correlate with improved image quality and a minimization of re-takes.
- Shimadzu showcased the new Unity edition of its Trinias cross-disciplinary angiography system, which enhances patient experience via a tilting function to support flexible patient positioning.
- AGFA Healthcare showcased their DR 600, which enhances the patient comfort through automation of positioning options.
- Siemen Healthineers’ launch of Acuson Juniper further improves the patient experience by being 40 percent quieter than other ultrasound systems in its class.
Digitalization continues to set the radiology industry alight, but how will burnout amongst radiologists be addressed?
What is burnout?
One of the key tribulations faced in radiology society today is an increasing number of physicians that are becoming burnt out. Burnout can be defined as psychological job-related syndrome in which there is:
- Emotional exhaustion: Feeling emotionally overextended by workload
- Depersonalization: A lack of feeling towards those receiving care
- Personal accomplishment: Perceived lack of competence
It is estimated that almost 50% of radiologists’ experience at least one symptom of burnout.
What is causing burnout amongst radiologists?
Figures are as high as 40-50% for burnout amongst radiologists; digitalization and increased workload are thought to be a prevalent cause. Radiologists are taking on more cases, examining more images, and under increased pressure not to make errors. The new era of AI won't be conventional practice for all radiologists, but several ECR 2018 speakers speculated that radiologists who use AI are likely to replace radiologists who do not.
ECR 2018 product launches
In an era where radiology is fast evolving, ECR 2018 exhibitors showed that despite system functionality becoming more complex and evolved, improved operability and workflow is still at the heart of innovative solutions:
- Philips Healthcare’s launch of the new digital Ingenia Elition 3.0T MR system enables MRI exams to be up to 50% faster, without image quality being jeopardized. The IntelliSpace Portal 10 features improvements across the entire system to provide radiologists with an improved set of applications and workflows.
- Fujifilm showcased the FCT SPEEDIA SERIES, a computed tomography solution designed to optimize workflow and provide the solution to multiple routine examinations without compromise.
- Siemens Healthineers launched the Acuson Juniper ultrasound system, which provides the clinical information required for confident decision making at the point of imaging. The system design can be adapted to everyday clinical workflow challenges. Additional features include continuous automation for transformative workflow for ease of use.
AI could indefinitely be the segue to automate scanning procedures and tackle radiologist burnout in assisting with processing of large datasets and improving diagnostic precision. However, a lot of work needs to be done before AI can be integrated into standard practice and the clinical routine of radiologists. In the foreseeable future, AI is likely to be inescapable, with all radiologists forced to embrace it. The issues surfacing around AI integration will be resolved in the upcoming years, facilitating a widespread uptake.
ECR 2018 highlighted the importance of exciting developments throughout the radiology industry to improve scanning precision, with patient comfort still being at the forefront of innovation and improvement in clinical outcome.
Burnout amongst radiologists cannot be ignored. Vendors must focus efforts on quicker scanning times, ease of workflow, and assisting diagnostic precision through image quality to address this. A partnership, sufficient training and ongoing support by imaging vendors is essential to ensure that digitalization and the era of AI will prevent, as opposed to be the root of, burnout amongst radiologists.