Why efficiency, not AI, could be the biggest theme of RSNA 2018

RSNA 2018 in Chicago is less than three months away—do you know where your business cards and most comfortable shoes are?

With radiology's premier show rapidly approaching, Signify Research has published a new report on the trends expected to steal the show. And, yes, artificial intelligence (AI) seems like an obvious choice for No. 1, but the report suggests another top trend: efficiency. 

“Don’t expect efficiency to be blatantly emblazoned across a single product or marketing campaign though—this is not going to be a headline grabbing theme,” wrote author Steve Holloway. “Instead, it will be subtly woven into almost all aspects of hardware and software on show, the impact of which is dependent on multiple small marginal gains. New imaging hardware released at the show this year will be that bit faster than the last; technicians will have to do less manual preparation and positioning; power consumption will be improved; repeat scan rates will fall; systems will boot up faster; service downtime will be reduced.”

The rest of Signify Research’s picks are just as fascinating:

  • Enterprise Imaging

Holloway noted that “every imaging IT software product on the market” is now branded as enterprise imaging, muddying the waters a bit when it comes to truly understanding what the concept really means. Break through the confusion, however, and you have an essential component of modern radiology.

  • Provider Consolidation

The ongoing trend that finds more and more healthcare providers merging and acquiring one another should be more evident in 2018 than any previous year, according to Holloway.

“Mid-sized vendors are becoming increasingly scarce and their presence at the show will be diminished,” he wrote. “Hardware vendors with only one or two modalities will find it increasingly difficult to compete. Consolidation of health providers to larger enterprises will favor the largest vendors that can offer a full portfolio of imaging modalities, especially as procurement preferences move towards longer term, bundled managed service deals.”

As mid-level vendors diminish, it’s expected that “small best-of-breed specialists” will fill the void, working not to necessarily market to customers but to build business relationships with larger vendors.

“Amongst this group will also be where the most innovative technology and applications will be seen at the show, whether in AI, workflow tools, practice management or advanced visualization,” Holloway wrote. “However, many won’t make it to the show next year, such is the challenge of market entry.”

  • AI

You just knew Signify Research would have to get to AI eventually. Holloway noted a change that many other industry leaders have picked up on in the last year or so: attitudes toward AI in radiology have rapidly shifted.

“The fear of radiologists being replaced by AI has subsided (for now), with growing anticipation that AI can instead augment and support radiologists coming to the fore instead,” he wrote.

AI-based tools that assist with quantification and measurement will be prevalent at RSNA 2018, according to the report, and clinical decision support technology is expected to have “a significant presence.” Computer aided diagnosis, meanwhile, could end up getting less attention at this year’s conference.