Step Into the Future of Medical Imaging

AI and informatics in radiology will take center stage at the ACR Annual Conference on Quality and Safety.step into the future

The future of medical imaging — and the ability to adapt to new quality metrics, clinical decision support, and enhanced patient care — will guide the conversation at the 2018 ACR Conference on Quality and Safety. Top quality and data science experts will convene to share the latest tools and insights on how AI can be used to optimize business efficiencies and high-level patient care.

In a recent interview with the ACR Bulletin, Jonathan B. Kruskal, MD, PhD, FACR, chair of the department of radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and coordinator of the ACR Commission on Quality and Safety’s Quality Management Committee, offered his views on this year’s meeting — to be held in Boston, October 26–28 — marking the 10th anniversary of ACR’s quality and safety gathering.

This year’s theme is “Empowering the Quality Journey Through AI.” What can attendees expect to take away from the conference?

We really need to move away from the time-tested basics of quality assurance and improvement. We’ve all been there and, hopefully, done that by now, or we shouldn’t be in this business. We need to start focusing intently on continuously improving our performance and sustaining those efforts. The only way that we can do this effectively is by utilizing AI and informatics solutions. This confer­ence will highlight just how interdependent these two domains are — and hopefully show how informatics is the framework upon which improvement can take place.

How are radiologists uniquely positioned to succeed?

Radiologists provide services to many different cus­tomers, which means we’re attuned to the needs of our patients (who are also our customers). To survive and thrive, we have to be very patient-focused, since few of us are the only show in town. This competition must drive us to make our practices efficient for both patients and referring clinicians, not to mention for our own bottom line. We have to seek feedback, survey our customers, and respond. We are starting to do this very well, in part, because we have no other option.

Do you think patient-centered efforts are improving?

It depends. Radiology, like many other fields, remains divided. There are those who will do the bare minimum to meet required metrics to get reimbursed. Their interest is not in developing new tools. A second group is invested in improving what they do to better patient outcomes. This group is keenly interested in developing exciting new tools, including those using AI. A third group rests in the middle. They are the ones who really need to come to our meeting to join in the many new advances taking place.

The bottom line is that innovative new tools are being created faster than ever before. This is, in large part, due to informatics solutions being developed in response to the realization that if radiologists want to succeed and be a real part of improving patient outcomes, they have to do this now or they will be left behind.

What trends do you see in quality improvement tools?

Informatics and quality improvement are part and parcel of our contemporary work environ­ment — it’s really up to us to use these tools and processes effectively. Clearly the world of quality has shifted from measuring processes, often in response to regulatory requirements, to contributing to improved patient outcomes. This is being achieved through informatics and AI solutions. That’s just as well, because we can no longer remain stranded trying to manage pro­cess metrics without any focus on improving outcomes. I have never seen such an exponential increase in the number of improvement efforts that are now taking place. The sheer number of articles being published in our literature on quality topics (including case studies in JACR®), along with growing quality content in what were traditionally national clinical meetings, attests to this. And those are coupled with the rapid deployment of talented radiology improvement experts in all major practices. It’s very gratifying.

We keep this meeting’s content as current as possible, and we choose the best speakers to keep us all up to speed. This is why this gathering has been so successful and continues to grow year after year.

Do you think the current political climate is impacting expectations of radiologists?

I do. There seems to be an ever-changing and growing landscape of regulatory expectations resulting in much effort and many resources being devoted to keeping up. We know that these regulatory and compliance expectations are adding to the burden many of us are experiencing in the workplace.

What keeps you up at night in the world of quality and safety?

I would say it’s the fact that we are running around trying to keep up with non-value-adding regulatory and compliance requirements that divert our time and focus from providing the best level of clinical care to our patients. And when that no longer keeps me up, it will be trying to stay up to date with the incredible pace of advances in informatics.

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