RSNA 2021 was a real eye-opener for me. It was the first time I appeared at the event as a member of industry rather than in my capacity as a radiologist or rad student and I’m happy to say it was an extremely rewarding experience.
Industry is not the enemy!
Throughout medical school and most of training, you are conditioned to see industry as a corrupting influence, but RSNA served as a great reminder that there doesn’t need to be such a divide between academia and industry. The reality is that despite their different perspectives, ultimately both are all driven by better patient care.
I got some amazing feedback from rads about the Sirona platform, and even more gratifyingly for me, I was able to demonstrate that a relatively new rad like myself can influence innovation in the radiology space and become a better radiologist as a result. Because “industry” continuously questions why my workflow is the way it is and what could be done to make it better, I have a much greater awareness of my diagnostic processes than I ever would have if I just stayed in my lane, eyes down, doing my reads, without being challenged on the ‘why’.
AI propaganda past and present
Inevitably, AI was front and center at the conference. It got me thinking about yet another myth I was repeatedly exposed to during med school about another supposed “enemy”, i.e. “you shouldn’t bother becoming a rad because AI is coming to take all your jobs.” Of course this didn’t happen. In fact quite the contrary: radiology has enjoyed a massive boom since the naysayers warned us about AI. Now the narrative has shifted to AI helping radiologists do absolutely anything under the sun, but the reality is quite different.
Wandering around the conference made me realize that AI is mostly just a marketing buzzword. A bit like when the tech industry started calling everything “smart”, AI is attached to almost every new application, irrespective of how artificial or intelligent it actually is. In my capacity as an industry consultant, I’m most definitely a believer and I do expect it to become fundamental to the way we rads operate in future. But for now, the noise about AI is far greater than the signal. Too many vendors are not considering how it will integrate with a rad’s workflow, which is absolutely fundamental to the success or failure of any tool, AI or otherwise.
Sirona at RSNA
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was for me to explain Sirona’s mantra of “unify, simplify, amplify” to the rads at the conference. They quickly recognized the power of one unified platform, and once they saw how Anatomic Navigator allowed the dictaphone to tab through a report, while simultaneously highlighting the corresponding anatomical location in the viewer, they were hooked! Like me, they had spent a lot of time rolling their eyes at poorly integrated features purporting to be revolutionary, so it was liberating to see something that would actually work and be helpful in clinical practice.
In addition, conference attendees were pleasantly surprised to see a product being demonstrated by full-time practicing radiologists. My colleague, Samir Mehta and I, reveled in the opportunity to show our fellow rads how the latest innovations can actually make an improvement in their day-to-day practice. From my personal experience of RSNA in the past, I almost never made the effort to check out industry demos, but I most certainly would have done so if I knew they were being hosted by folks who spoke my language, instead of marketing BS.
Learnings from RSNA 2021
It was rewarding to see how Sirona’s offerings may fit in the wider landscape of radiology. I never envisioned I’d be at the center of radiology innovation in only my second year of practice. I am now even more inspired to put in the hours to help develop something that disrupts the marketplace and changes the way we work.
Dr. Jon Masur is a full-time board certified diagnostic radiologist with Princeton Radiology, specializing in neuroradiology. In his personal time, Dr. Masur serves as a radiology consultant to Sirona Medical, helping out on numerous product development projects. The opinions expressed here are solely Dr. Masur’s personal opinions and are not necessarily reflective of either Princeton Radiology or Sirona Medical.
MKT019 Rev A.0