Report: Medical imaging research is important to global healthcare system

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Medical imaging is presently one of the fastest growing areas in medicine and plays an important role in all levels of the healthcare system, according to the “Science Policy Briefing” from the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) medical section, the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC).

In November 2006, EMRC assembled a group of European high-level medical imaging experts in Trondheim, Norway, to focus on expanding medical imaging research in Europe and to develop a policy for best practices.
“More and better research in medical imaging is needed in Europe to increase our knowledge about disease processes and therapy management with the long-term goal of improving the health of European citizens,” according John Marks, chief executive, ESF and Liselotte Højgaard, chair, EMRC.

The results from the workshop include the following recommendations:  
•    Obtain more and better medical imaging research in Europe through:
    - improved European collaboration, in particular between different universities, between imaging
        specialists and clinical doctors, and between different imaging modalities
    - establishment of interdisciplinary research groups of sufficient size and with access to long-term funding
    - improved collaboration between academia and industry where research goals are defined by academia 

•    Obtain more evidence-based medicine at European level through:
    - health technology evaluation
    - validations of standard clinical practice for optimal use of imaging
    - socio-economic measure of these new health technologies 
•    Establish appropriate education/training for implementing new technology into clinical practice
•    Develop user-friendly tools that can be applied by non-expert users at the initial point-of-care
•    Plan and fund both short- and long-term research activities 

Improved patient outcome, sustainable healthcare systems and increased competitiveness in the European medical industry are some of the benefits ESF and EMRC expect to see from developing research-based knowledge on how to use medical imaging.