Best Practice

“The gates are open” – how AI insights flooded the #ECR2023 conversations.

At the #ECR2023 event, it was evident that radiologists are no longer wondering whether they should adopt AI but rather when and how they should do it.

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR) is one of the most significant events in the radiology field, bringing together professionals, researchers, and vendors worldwide. The 2023 edition of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) event in Vienna, Austria, attracted 17,262 participants from 122 countries, an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous year. One brave attendee walked no less than 14 km on just the first day. At the event, more than 50 new products were launched, and sustainability was the central theme on broad display at elaborate stands built to impress. 

The predominant focus on AI seemed a testament to this year's theme, "The Cycle of Life," with many attendees keen to know more about the Osimis AI platform and how it could help them improve their workflow and patient outcomes. Summary short of #ECR2023: health care comes first, health tech helping the helpers is a strong second. 

Why? Read on to discover how we come to this conclusion.

The use of AI in radiology has been a hot topic in recent years, with many experts predicting that it will transform the field. At the ECR event, it was evident that radiologists are no longer wondering whether they should adopt AI but rather when and how to do it. Many attendees were keen to know more about Osimis' AI platform and how it could help them improve their workflow and patient outcomes.

From our booth conversations, we learned that the use of AI platforms in that process is acknowledged as the logical next step, as all understand:

1. There's no single AI solution to tackle everything.

Radiology is a complex field with diverse applications, and there's no one-size-fits-all AI solution. Instead, radiologists need a platform to support multiple applications and use cases, from detecting tumors to classifying images.

Collaboration will be critical in the future, so make sure to only work with such best-of-breed partners as:

  • Icometrix – again selected as co-moderators for the AI theatre sessions, and rightfully so. Its CEO, Wim Van Hecke, shared some interesting stats on the adoption of AI in healthcare settings on his LinkedIn profile. 
  • Gleamer – proudly announced that all its solutions are now MDR CE Certified and topped off their ECR 2023 participation by winning the “Best New Radiology Vendor Award” by Aunt Minnie. Congratulations team Gleamer!
  • Milvue – always on the lookout for integrated collaborations, Milvue solutions were present at over 20 booths at ECR2023. Because together we go far.

2. GDPR requirements are more easily covered with a single third-party provider.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a stringent regulation that requires organisations to protect the privacy and security of personal data. Radiology practices that use AI must ensure that they comply with GDPR requirements, and using a single third-party provider can simplify the process.

3. Cloud-borne processing is the only future-proof solution (even for 3D mammo).

Cloud-based processing offers several benefits over traditional on-premises solutions, including scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. It also allows radiologists to access images and data from anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

4. A simple, no-nonsensical workflow approach is the best (no additional UIs) (for now).

Radiologists want an AI platform that is easy to use and integrates seamlessly with their existing workflow. Adding additional user interfaces (UIs) can lead to confusion and disrupt the workflow, which is why a simple, no-nonsense approach is the best.

A market shift is happening in the radiology field, or as Dr. Oğuz LAFÇI (Radiologist at the Sincan State Hospital, Turkey) put it: “The gates are open.” Organisations need to seize the momentum. While there is some concern about the lack of ROI evidence in AI adoption, trailblazing hospital institutions have successfully implemented AI with demonstrable results. In addition to hard data, AI brings softer benefits to the table, such as reducing the risk of burnout and allowing healthcare providers to focus on patient care.

Side note – if you’re a radiologist, make sure to complete the survey issued by the University College of Cork on burnout and job satisfaction: https://ucc.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cZwSS3WQxAZVhxI 

We're professionals and know it's hard, but let's work on getting the stats to prove it.

Together we can make radiology better for everyone. 

5. Mergers and acquisitions of AI vendors are approaching.

The AI market in radiology is proliferating, and many companies are vying for a piece of the pie. As the market matures, mergers and acquisitions are becoming more common as companies look to consolidate their position and acquire new technologies.

From left to right: Frédéric Lambrechts, Ferdinand Mol, Prof. Dr. Erik Ranschaert, Dr. Sergey Morozov

But what brings this about? What is the bigger picture that brings these insights about?

The #ECR2023 panel discussions provided the helicopter overview that serves as an umbrella for everyone.

1. AI market growth is imminent and inevitable.

The AI market in radiology is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 30% between 2022 and 2023, driven by the increasing adoption of AI solutions in medical imaging and the growing demand for improved patient outcomes.

Illustration by Global Market Insights

As one of the co-creators of Orthanc, Osimis stood at the cradle of AI life. We intend to remain trailblazers throughout the AI Cycle of Life. So, we presented the ECR attendees with a short video to illustrate how we intend to do that:

It didn’t win an Oscar (YET!), but it did get rave reviews from attending peers, associations, and the press. 

2. There are ongoing discussions on reimbursement premiums for AI users in the EU.

As AI adoption in radiology increases, there have been discussions about the need for reimbursement premiums for AI users in the EU. This could help offset the costs of adopting new technologies and encourage more radiologists to adopt AI solutions.

3. The EU AI regulations are much awaited.

The EU is expected to unveil its AI regulations soon, which could significantly impact the AI market in radiology. The regulations are expected to address data privacy, ethics, and transparency issues, which could help create a more level playing field for AI vendors. 

Make sure to watch the recording of our panel discussion on “Sharing data with industry: Myths and Reality”: https://connect.myesr.org/course/sharing-data-with-industry-myths-and-reality/ And stay tuned for a follow-up blog on the questions we got afterward! 

4. The MDR requirement got postponed, not canceled.

The Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) has been postponed, which has given radiology practices more time to prepare for the new regulations. The MDR was initially scheduled to come into effect in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new deadline is May 2027, giving radiology practices more time to comply with the new regulations.

5. Lung/breast cancer screening programs might become another strong AI adoption driver.

Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and early detection is critical to improving patient outcomes. Lung and breast cancer screening programs have shown promising results in early detection and recovery results, and AI could help improve the accuracy and efficiency of these programs. As a result, lung and breast cancer screening programs might become another strong driver for AI adoption in radiology.

You may have heard about the prestigious ODELIA project – we’re very proud to be on board as one of the partners on a project focused on improving breast cancer MRI analysis while contributing to the overall goal of training AI models without data sharing. More on this at: https://www.osimis.io/news/training-ai-models-without-data-sharing-and-improving-breast-cancer-mri-analysis-osimis-joins-odelia-project 

6. UK radiology shortage worsening.

The shortage of radiologists in the UK has been a longstanding issue and is only getting worse. This shortage has strained the healthcare system, leading to longer wait times and delayed diagnoses. AI could help alleviate some pressure on radiologists, allowing them to focus on more complex cases while AI handles routine tasks.

More stats and info on the global situation are on the RSNA page. 

7. More pharma companies are paying for AI usage by hospitals.

Pharmaceutical companies increasingly recognize AI's value in drug development and clinical trials. As a result, more pharma companies are paying for the usage of AI by hospitals and other healthcare providers. This trend is expected to continue, further driving the adoption of AI in radiology.

8. ECR 2024 focus on AI.

ECR announced that the 2024 edition would be themed "Next generation radiology," and we expect it to have an even greater focus on AI, reflecting the growing importance and value of this technology in and for radiology experts and patients. With a growing customer base, expanding partner community, and new growth plans, Osimis is committed to radiology, which is better for everyone. Pioneers, partners, peers, and patients.  

In conclusion, the ECR 2022 event in Vienna highlighted the growing importance of AI in radiology. Radiologists are no longer wondering if they should adopt AI but when and how to do it. AI platforms are seen as the logical next step, and there is a growing demand for platforms that can support multiple applications and use cases. The AI market in radiology is proliferating, and there is a need for regulations that can ensure that AI is used ethically and transparently. The ECR 2024 is expected to have an even greater focus on AI, and it will provide a platform for vendors, researchers, and radiologists to showcase the latest trends and innovations in this field.

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