Quelling the Fear from Artificial Intelligence Hype

ACR17-259This post is contributed by Daniel Ortiz, MD, chief radiology resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School, vice chair of the ACR Resident and Fellow Section and member of the ACR RFS AI Advisory Group.

I recently received this email from a medical student (name withheld) interested in radiology, but concerned that artificial intelligence may negatively impact the specialty:

Concerns are circulating amongst my fellow medical students regarding AI replacing radiologists. These worries are deterring some of my classmates from applying to diagnostic radiology programs, out of concern for the future of the specialty. I am very interested in radiology and would love to hear what you think about how radiologists might utilize AI to improve the field. Do you have any resources that might help me dispel this myth among my classmates and reassure us about the future of radiology?

Here is the abridged version of my response:

It can be intimidating with some of the things controversial non-medical data scientists (and sadly some clinicians) are saying these days. The good news is that some of the hype is accurate.

Those possibilities are the part of AI that makes radiology one of the most exciting fields. Here is a blog written by a radiologist expert in machine learning (AI) that sheds light on many imaging AI myths.

Several aspects of what we do as radiologists are routine and mundane. These take away from the intense thought-provoking aspect of our jobs and contribute to burnout. They are the low hanging fruit to automate. For instance, I look forward to having automatic volumes of tumors that can be trended, rather than relying on manual caliper measurements.

It’s true. There are some tools being developed to help aid in image interpretation. However, the time and work necessary to make these concepts workflow realities is significant. This is the work the ACR Data Science Institute™ is spearheading to ensure the focus is on algorithms that are safe and help us take care of our patients.

When these tools are developed, they will be diagnostic aids to make our work more efficient. A great comparison is the “autopilot” tool for pilots. Autopilot has been around for decades and has made aviation safer, but the number of pilots needed has gone up (not down).

Such concerns are part of what led us to create the ACR RFS AI journal club. We make it a point to learn about the technology and what it can do for us. We are building a community of radiologists and data scientists to focus on learning about and developing tools to help us.

You are welcome to join future journal club webinar sessions. I also recommend you join our ACR community as a member-in-training. It’s the best way to get reliable, up-to-date information and get involved.

I would not worry about radiologists being replaced. If that day ever comes in the distant future, all jobs are at risk. I hope you follow your interests and join our exciting field and the ACR community.

I would be interested to know how you might have responded to this bright medical student.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or share them on Engage (login required).


R-SCAN: We’ve Got Your Back

Nicola_GThis post was contributed by Gregory N. Nicola, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Economics Committee on MACRA.

A couple of years ago, a multispecialty group of clinicians at my institution, including nurses, pharmacists and physicians representing multiple specialties including orthopedics, emergency medicine and radiology started a conversation about reducing low value imaging — particularly evaluation of non-traumatic pain in the ED.

The resulting We’ve Got Your Back program puts Choosing Wisely recommendations into practice. For this, our team was recently named Choosing Wisely “Champions” by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). This initiative has energized our organization; with subsequent widespread support for exploring other Choosing Wisely topics, expanding our collaboration and utilizing the tools provided by Radiology, Support, Communication and Alignment Network (R-SCAN).R-SCAN logo

The effort has also advanced care coordination and communication amongst all clinicians which will no doubt translate into high-value care for our patients. I invite you to reach out to referring providers in your hospital or community to work together to ensure that the most appropriate scans (if any are needed) are ordered before you see the patient.

Freely available R-SCAN resources make this easier than you may think. R-SCAN prepares you and your referring providers for the coming federal mandate that providers consult appropriate use criteria before ordering advanced imaging for Medicare patients. A key participation benefit is radiologists and collaborating referring doctors may earn seven medium-weight Improvement Activity (IA) Credits for completing an R-SCAN project this year.

It gets referring doctors familiar with clinical decision support technology at no cost. R-SCAN participants gain free access to a customized version the ACR Select® CDS tool, the web-based version of the ACR Appropriateness Criteria®. And, you and referring doctors can get complimentary CME credit.

More information can be found on the R-SCAN website, including the how-to guide, topics, project results, topic-specific resources and FAQs.

If you’re participating in R-SCAN, tell us about your project.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

Opposition to Anthem Imaging Policies Gains Momentum

moran4This post was contributed by American College of Radiology Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Health Policy Cynthia Moran.

Opposition to new Anthem outpatient imaging policies is not just for radiologists anymore.

As reported by Politico*, a national political and public policy news outlet, 11 medical societies and patient advocacy groups signed a Jan. 16 letter telling Anthem to drop these policies. The American Medical Association has called for Anthem to abandon these policies as well.

This week, legislation was introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates to effectively bar Anthem from implementing these policies there. The legislation would bar Anthem and other insurers from implementing similar policies in the Commonwealth.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) would oppose any policy that excludes coverage for any site of service based primarily on insurer profit. That would include policies that refuse to cover (or dramatically reduce payment for imaging done in freestanding centers or independent diagnostic testing facilities.

In the long run, such meat cleaver policies by Anthem will affect imaging providers and those they serve, regardless of setting. The ACR and others want to ensure that patients get the care they need where they want to receive it. The movement is growing.

Radiologists should check out ACR Anthem Outpatient Imaging Policy Resources for more information on how you can help counter these arbitrary and unwise policies.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

*Scroll halfway down page to article titled “Anthem’s payment changes spark blowback.”