The global market for artificial intelligence and machine learning in medical imaging, comprising software for automated detection, quantification, decision support, and diagnosis, is expected to see a “period of robust growth” and eclipse $2 billion by 2023, according to a new report from U.K.-based Signify Research.

Simon Harris, the author of the report, says in a prepared statement that artificial intelligence and machine learning “will play a key role” in helping radiology departments handle an ever-increasing volume of diagnostic imaging procedures and despite a chronic shortage of radiologists in a number of countries. “It is becoming increasingly clear that AI will transform the diagnostic imaging industry, both in terms of enhanced productivity, increased diagnostic accuracy, more personalized treatment planning, and ultimately, improved clinical outcomes,” Harris states.

In the report, Harris notes that, following the introduction of deep-learning technology and affordable cloud computing and storage, product development for AI-based medical image analysis tools rapidly increased while the AI-based tools themselves are gradually becoming smarter, portending more accurate diagnostics and sophisticated functionalities. “The interest and enthusiasm for AI in the radiologist community has notably increased over the last 12 to 18 months and the discussion has moved on from AI as a threat, to how AI will augment radiologists,” he says.

Potential barriers to AI becoming mainstream in medical imaging, Harris says, include challenging regulatory processes, a need for more research to validate AI algorithms in clinical settings, a current lack of integration between algorithm developers and imaging IT vendors, and, healthcare providers who are reluctant to purchase software from multiple vendors.

Meanwhile, Harris notes that global technology giants, including Chinese firms Tencent and Alibaba, are encroaching upon start-ups and smaller software developers as they ratchet up their focus on AI/ML in imaging products and services. “Over the coming years, the combined R&D firepower of the expanding ecosystem will knock down the remaining barriers and radiologists will have a rapidly expanding array of AI-powered workflow and diagnostic tools at their disposal,” he says.

To read the report in its entirety, visit Signify Research.