By Aine Cryts

More than half of the 207 imaging leaders and radiologists at U.S.-based hospitals and imaging centers surveyed say they’re optimistic that artificial intelligence (AI) will impact patient care, according to a recent study by Framingham, Mass.-based Definitive Healthcare, a healthcare provider data insights and analytics company. AIs potential to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and clinical outcomes is what’s driving their optimism, they say.

Each year, Definitive Healthcare surveys healthcare leaders to assess AI adoption rates, in addition to primary areas of use and the greatest challenges associated with using the technology.

The study revealed that one-third of the imaging leaders and radiologists surveyed said their organizations are using AI, machine learning, or deep learning to help with patient care imaging or business operations. Imaging centers have a slight edge—by nearly 3%—in their utilization of AI over their colleagues in hospital environments, according to the study.

Matt Valley, a senior healthcare analyst at Definitive Healthcare, tells AXIS Imaging News that imaging centers likely have “a lower financial overhead and a singular focus on imaging in comparison to acute care hospital operations, which allows for a little more wiggle room and justification for imaging centers to adopt technology that applies solely to their primary focus.” Still, he stresses that the AI adoption rate between both organization types is similar.

At 93%, the top use of AI in hospitals and imaging centers is with computer-aided image detection for disease states. That’s followed by process or workflow improvement (27%) and equipment maintenance (16%).

Fifty-five percent of respondents said cost was a barrier in their implementation of AI, whereas 35% reported lack of strategic direction. Moreover, 33% reported that lack of technical expertise, as in access to IT personnel and data scientists, was a barrier.

Here are two questions Valley says imaging leaders and radiologists need to ask, in particular, if lack of strategic direction is holding up their organization’s use of AI:

  1. “Is leadership open to AI adoption?”
  2. “Why or why not?”

Some advice from Valley for radiologists and imaging leaders who are curious about AI: It’s crucial to learn how AI is being used in other healthcare settings. “[This exercise] will help set expectations for a realistic implementation timeline, reveal unforeseen hurdles, and help set some expectations,” he says.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for AXIS Imaging News.