John’s example underscores the need for collaboration among several care providers, especially in complex cases. A radiologist in San Francisco can work in real time with a colleague in London, or a specialized oncology center in Singapore for a second opinion, requiring the ability to easily and seamlessly share images and contextual data, all for the benefit of the patient.
Using Cloud technology, data from cases like John’s can be aggregated and analyzed across multiple hospitals in different parts of the world to identify factors that impact diagnosis and treatment efficacy. Major leaps in machine learning allow clinicians to analyze very large data sets and derive algorithms for clinical decision support. The field of deep learning has progressed to a point where software can find patterns in highly complex images, going beyond what the human eye can see. We are witnessing an exponential increase in processing and storage capabilities. Genome sequencing technology has developed in the last years at twice the speed of Moore’s law!
Radiology will evolve with the progress of clinical technology, which is increasingly determined by the fast changes in information technology. We see the impact around us every day. It is not even five years ago that the iPad was launched and the device today is already 40 times more powerful than the 2009 version. Every day, Amazon adds in storage and computing capacity equivalent to their total capacity from five years ago.
Shortly, we will get actionable insights derived from all relevant diagnostic and patient data. Data collected from different scans, studies, electronic medical record (EMR) information, genomic data and personal patient history. The data is coming from different sources, including hospitals, physician practices, insurance companies, consumer apps and connected devices.
The radiologist will get a dramatically expanded view of the patient, reach a definitive diagnosis through actionable analytics, by tracking longitudinal data, and, by collaborating more effectively with oncologists, neurologists, cardiologists, care team members… and, yes, the patient. Clinicians can also compare each patient’s case to the data and experiences of other patients that have experienced similar journeys across the health continuum.
Radiology plays such a critical role in the health system. When we look at where health technology is headed, radiology is way beyond scans and images. It is often the launching point for a patient’s journey, where an ever-expanding array of new information will factor into how that patient ultimately moves across the health continuum.
As health care data becomes accessible, radiology will continue to increase and extend its impact in patient care – from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and recovery. The radiologist might well become the integrator and analyst of all critical clinical data.