By Aine Cryts

Only 23% of the radiologists surveyed in the Medscape Radiologist Lifestyle, Happiness, & Burnout Report 2020 said they were very happy or happy in their jobs. By way of comparison, 41% of dermatologists reported being very happy or happy, whereas 18% of neurologists expressed these feelings about their work life. In addition, 30% of radiologists reported feeling burned out. Sixteen percent said they were burned out and depressed, and 4% felt clinically depressed.

Job burnout hits diagnostic radiologists harder than most physicians, per a study in the American Journal of Radiology. The impact of that burnout can be early retirement, errors in patient care, and unprofessional behavior. 

Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Communications is trying to ease radiologists’ burnout by making it easy to access artificial intelligence (AI) tools, Karen Holzberger, the company’s senior vice president and general manager of diagnostics, tells AXIS Imaging News.

Most radiologists are accustomed to using voice-recognition software to document their findings in the radiology report, she explains. What’s new is using AI to translate a “blob of text” into meaningful information that can improve patient care. Having the right clinical information automatically populated in the radiology report without additional work by the radiologist helps ensure that patients receive care when they need it, adds Holzberger.

Adherence to technology standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, means this clinically relevant information is captured from the radiologist’s spoken observations and then populated in their hospital or practice’s PACS, she explains.

Still, it’s hard to find the time to “test drive” an AI tool. That’s why the company developed an AI marketplace for diagnostic imaging. Here’s how it works: AI developers have access to a single application programming interface to connect their algorithms to radiologists at more than 6,000 of Nuance’s customer sites. In turn, radiologists and radiologic technologists have access to a “one-stop shop to review, try, and buy AI algorithms,” according to the company.

The ability to access and try out AI algorithms is key, as is an easy contracting experience for IT and purchasing departments, Holzberger tells AXIS. Important for radiologists, she adds, is that AI tools work within their current workflow. In addition, hospitals and radiology practices have to ensure that AI tools work with their current modalities and patient populations, she advises.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.