Embrace A Future with Artificial Intelligence

Tomblinson_DSC4809_PP_5x7This post was contributed by Courtney Tomblinson, MD, ACR Valerie P. Jackson Education Fellow and neuroradiology fellow at Vanderbilt University.

Artificial intelligence and augmented intelligence tools are not the enemy. At least not for radiologists. Rather, they are tools to help us build a better future for our patients and practices.

Media hype of inflated claims of AI performance has built mistrust that AI will soon replace radiologists. Perhaps it is a glass-half-full view, but I – and many other radiologists – don’t share this fear. In fact, as author and “futurologist” Mark Stevenson put it in his keynote address at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting earlier this week, “You won’t be replaced by AI, you will be replaced by someone who knows how to use AI.” It was a quote shared frequently throughout the radiology Twitterverse – a place where you can often find me engaging in important discussions like this one.

Personally, I can’t wait to test some of these new AI tools. I would urge others to get excited about the possibilities these technologies can hold, as well.

This week, the ACR Data Science Institute (ACR DSI) released the first of its landmark AI use cases to help ensure that AI tools do what they say they can do, can be safely implemented into the radiology workflow, and enable quality improvement over time.

Medical imaging AI can now move from curiosities that sometimes appear in medical literature or sensationalized news stories, to the creation of tools that actually help us improve patient care. This is big.

The TOUCH-AI use cases were created to empower AI developers to produce algorithms that are clinically relevant, ethical and effective. Each use case provides narrative descriptions and flow charts which specify the health care goal of the algorithm, the required clinical input, how it should integrate into the clinical workflow and how it will interface with users and tools. The use cases are bringing radiologists and allied professionals together to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges.

One day, when AI tools are commonplace, when they have made us even more efficient and when patients are no longer suffering from disease or injury that will then be preventable or easily treatable – we will look back on this week and smile.

These are heady times. But don’t fear the days ahead. Revel in them.

Big things are coming. The future is now. And we, as radiology professionals, get to play a leading role.

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