Radiology is a field based on innovation and change. Even during the past decades, radiology has continued to evolve as the imaging industry added CT and MRI as well as interventional radiology. As technology becomes more advanced, so will radiology. With AI becoming more incorporated into healthcare and telemedicine becoming more popular, here are 5 trends in radiology we expect to see.
Trend 1: AI’s Continued Impact
AI can’t and won’t be able to replace radiology, but it will play a bigger role in healthcare as algorithms become more accurate and autonomous. Radiologists will likely use AI to help diagnose diseases and identify abnormalities. AI might be able to eliminate some radiologists’ tasks, but radiologists who would use AI will most likely replace those who don’t.
However, healthcare professionals may use imaging AI independently, which could provide a threat to radiology if physicians begin to rely on AI to provide diagnostic readings. Formal guidelines and policies regarding imaging AI will have to be created, but at the moment, AI is still in the early stages of implementation.
Trend 2: Increased precision and automation
Precision medicine has emerged as an approach for disease treatment and prevention. This concept takes into consideration genetic and environmental factors. Due to this, radiomics has developed as a new field of radiology. With radiomics, radiologists and computers use deep learning to help AI find patterns of pixels. Precision medicine and radiomics will continue to grow, and with that comes the chance of some radiologists’ tasks being automated, leaving them with more time to do more important work.
Trend 3: New imaging techniques
You can expect to see new imaging techniques emerge as radiology evolves. There are many new technologists currently in development or in the early stages of clinical adoption. For instance, as mentioned before, radiomics is currently developing. Along with radiomics, photoacoustic imaging and terahertz imaging are also in the works. These techniques will allow for images to be taken of the body in far greater detail and accuracy than is currently possible.
Adopting new imaging techniques takes time as new technology and techniques need early adopters who will take on the risk of adding new technology into their clinical practice. Before that, FDA approval is also needed before the new technology can be distributed. Evaluating the efficacy of new technology in real-world applications requires a lot of data, and trial and error as well.
Trend 4: Increased Preventive Care
As imaging evolves, radiology will play a bigger role in preventive care. Preventive imaging helps discover health issues before symptoms become more severe. Right now, there are preventive imaging techniques, such as getting a full-body MRI to detect any abnormalities, or getting regular mammograms to see if there are any changes in breast tissue.
Radiology is always striving to improve techniques and technology, so you can expect radiology to become more involved in preventive care. For instance, phase-contrast X-ray imaging, an imaging process used primarily in research labs, might be able to detect early-stage lung cancer.
Trend 5: More Accessibility
Finally, it’s likely that radiology will become more accessible to a wider range of patients, with a focus on delivering quality care in a cost-effective manner. Alongside AI, telemedicine will make it possible to people in rural areas to access imaging services. Virtual radiology can allow clinics to outsource their diagnostic analysis, and mobile imaging centers will be able to perform screenings.
The Future of Radiology
Radiology has always been an innovative field, so as it continues to grow and advance, you can expect to see its impact grow on the healthcare industry. What are some trends you expect to see happen in radiology in the future?