Meaningful Use, Artificial Intelligence Rank Among Top Imaging Informatics Trends

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imageThe top 10 trends in imaging informatics were the focus of a presentation at the opening session of the 2011 Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting, held in Washington, D.C. this week. Such trends include the use of informatics tools to address radiation dose, radiology's participation in meaningful use, artificial intelligence applications in medicine, the growth of personal electronic health records (EHRs), increases in mobile technology usage, quantitative imaging, image sharing, workflow management, cloud computing, and business analytics/ data mining, notes presenter Katherine Andriole, PhD, assistant director of imaging IT at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.

Noting that the power of artificial intelligence was recently demonstrated on the television game show "Jeopardy," with IBM's Watson computer system winning a contest against two human "Jeopardy" champions, Andriole says artificial intelligence will be applied more in medicine. She notes that a number of SIIM members are cooperating with IBM on such a project.

Moreover, Andriole continues, EHRs represent an impending reality, with patients becoming both healthcare consumers and gatekeepers in the future. The advent of personal health records “will change how we function in health care," she asserts.

Mobile technologies, too, constitute a key trend, and they will be utilized more and more in imaging informatics going forward, according to Andriole. Meanwhile, she notes, radiologists are already being compelled more than ever before to provide quantitative imaging for referring physicians, including, for instance, data on tumor size and changes in lesions over time. As for image sharing, new technologies, among them cloud computing and image repositories, are poised to replace CDs and flash drives for image exchange, Andriole reports.

Cloud computing, Andriole observes, has been referred to as an “architecture”, a “platform”, an “operating system”, and a “service”, but it is in some sense all four of these. "It's application, data, hardware, software, or services provided over the Internet," she says. "It really may be a new information delivery and consumption model that we see more and more in medical imaging."

More attention is also being paid to the amount of radiation patients receive from medical imaging procedures, Andriole concludes. She points out that informatics interventions can be applied at each point in the imaging chain to reduce radiation and to monitor and optimize radiation dose.