SIIM: Top 10 trends in imaging informatics

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) kicked off its annual meeting with a clear message on June 2: Radiology needs reform, and informatics can help.  

Katherine Andriole, PhD, director of imaging informatics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, launched the “Reforming Healthcare Through Informatics” conference by outlining the top 10 trends in imaging informatics, guided by a program of reform and structured across a number of novel tracks aimed at adding value to radiology.

Mirroring the impact of the public’s calls for reform and attention to radiation disasters, radiation dose safety topped the list. “Informatics interventions can be applied at each point in the imaging chain to reduce radiation and to monitor and optimize radiation dose,” Andriole commented.

Reiterating Andriole’s top priority, Mathew B. Morgan, MD, from the department of radiology at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City pointed to highly publicized radiation overdoses at several hospitals across the country, on top of radiation concerns over airport security and the meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. “This is a recipe for regulation,” exclaimed Morgan. “Or, an opportunity [for radiologists] to address this concern.”

Andriole’s number two trend dug at the heart of healthcare reform—meaningful use. SIIM has dedicated several sessions to the topic, which affects all specialties but has yet to fully penetrate radiology.

Other trends hitting the top of the list included business analytics, data mining and optimizing workflow. Two parts of a larger whole, radiology is moving increasingly toward not only measuring but effectively using data. This stretches from radiation dose and quantitative imaging to administration and process improvements—and informatics is at the heart.

Cloud computing and image sharing are two more trends wielding tremendous impact on patient care. “Cloud computing has been described as an application, data, hardware, software and services provided over the internet. Well, it’s all of these things,” Andriole noted.

Cloud computing offers radiology groups and hospitals the opportunity to review prior studies to make more complete and informed diagnoses. Moving forward, as images are increasingly shared over the cloud or in repositories, the two trends could have a significant impact on reducing repeat imaging.

Rounding out the bottom of Andriole’s top 10 trends were a group of technologies whose futures are less certain, but hold equal potential. Quantitative imaging, for one, enables physicians not only to measure tumor size but also to track changes before and after treatment, holding enormous benefit for cancer treatment, Andriole stated.

Mobile devices, personal health records (PHRs) and artificial intelligence took home the eight, nine and 10 spots, respectively. PHRs will change how we function in healthcare, due to a "more patient-centric take on EMRs and EHRs, with the patient as gatekeeper,” Andriole portended.