Radiology Trends and Takeaways: Innovations in the Wake of a Pandemic

By Katy Mena-Berkley
Wednesday, May 26, 2021

For the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a catalyst to enhance the practice of radiology.

Top Trends on the Radar

By 2030, Siemens Healthineers AG, the parent company for multiple medical technology companies, anticipates a global shortage of 15 million healthcare workers. This critical statistic underscores the need for imaging solutions that enhance efficiency and optimize outcomes, including:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) — This technology could take some of the load off of the 45% of radiologists complaining of burn out. For example, AI may be a helpful tool to identify abnormal mammography screenings, freeing up a radiologist’s time to concentrate on examinations where there seems to be a complication or possible cancer.
  • Photon counting detectors (PCD) — This technology can potentially capture high-quality images while delivering a lower dose of radiation. To date, PCD has existed mainly in the academic space, but a number of vendors are on the precipice of bringing this option to market.
  • Telemedicine and teleradiology adoption — During the pandemic, teleradiology has provided the opportunity for radiologists to remotely manage patients and minimize exposure to infection. Building on this trend, more companies are offering enterprise imaging systems to allow remote access and enable sharing of images and reports for peer review or to referring physicians.

Potential Improvement by the Numbers

  • More than $12 billion — The approximate amount spent on suboptimal and repetitive imaging on an annual basis
  • 43% — Increase in the amount of radiology exams with advanced modalities
  • 23% — Amount of work imaging staff deem to be inefficient and possibly capable of being improved with automation

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals continued to develop and fine-tune medical interventions. In the field of radiology, as evidenced during the 2020 RSNA meeting, innovation took center stage. From the evolution of imaging to the value of automation, the themes propelling the radiology field forward are focused on improving the future by learning from the present.