Signify Premium Insight: What to expect at RSNA 2020

Published: November 27, 2020

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Despite the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic rendering a physical event an impossibility, RSNA 2020 is still set to be the among the most important events in any radiologist’s diary. Vendors will no doubt be showing off the technologies and solutions they have devised to fight the pandemic, but the latest implementations of wider-ranging developments such as AI and broader enterprise imaging strategies will also be keenly studied.

Here are the key trends Signify Research’s expert analysts expect to see in different areas at the virtual show.

AI in Medical Imaging – Co-authored by Dr Sanjay Parekh

There will be two main trends pertaining specifically to AI in medical imaging on display at RSNA, namely:

  • The evolution of algorithms from single purpose tools to solutions that address a range of radiological findings
  • The evolution of AI platforms

Taking the first, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many new products that address a range of use cases have been released throughout the year. As AI becomes more prevalent in medical imaging, radiologists’ demands are shifting from algorithms that address specific tasks, such as lung nodule detection, to comprehensive AI offerings that can detect multiple findings. Solutions that incorporate several algorithms to address multiple use cases within a given body area will deliver greater diagnostic support and provide more value to the radiologist.

End-to-end AI solutions that address a wider remit of the diagnostic and treatment pathways beyond the reading room are also gaining traction. For example, in stroke care, end-to-end solutions provide detection, perfusion-analysis, and notification to mobilise the stroke care team. Coupled with the CMS decision to approve reimbursement for some vendors (Viz.ai, RapidAI, Avicenna.ai), customers will be incentivised with a tangible ROI.

The second main theme will be the evolution of AI platforms. AI marketplaces will continue to be a trend at RSNA, and we expect to see more imaging IT vendors showcase their approach to integrating AI into the workflow. Whether this be in the form of dedicated AI platforms (including marketplaces) or whether AI is integrated into the enterprise imaging management solution.

AI platforms have rapidly evolved into comprehensive offerings that deliver several important functions in addition to enabling radiologists to select and purchase AI. These functions include the deployment and integration of AI into the radiologist’s workflow, and most importantly, the orchestration of multiple AI applications.

Imaging Informatics – Co-authored by Steve Holloway

The imaging informatics market it at an interesting juncture, part-way along an evolution from traditional radiology PACS/RIS towards broader platforms capable of supporting an enterprise imaging strategy. We expect the vendor showcase at RSNA to be testament to this evolution. Enterprise imaging will be front and centre again as a major concept, but each vendor portfolio offering and new release will have its own flavour, depending on its core customer base, assessment of growth opportunity and legacy portfolio.

Operational workflow and efficiency will once again be a prominent theme, but with varying “flavours”. Diagnostic workflow for radiologists will remain prominent, increasingly leaning towards the advent of mainstream structured reporting facilitated by growing use of AI and radiomics. Case-load balancing and smart enterprise worklists and triage will target better management of reading resources, with a growing focus on integration of teleradiology workflow and use of third-party AI solutions where appropriate.

Fleet management and radiology operational analytics will also be very visible , a particularly important tangent given the pressures on imaging networks on account of COVID-19 and its associated financial and operational pressures. A new range of analytics and consolidated business intelligence tools are also expected here, supporting health systems in better managing and deploying all operational aspects of radiology (modality assets, staffing, QA) to ensure maximum efficiency and utilisation. For major modality vendors with healthcare informatics offerings, these tools will bridge the gap and blur the lines between informatics and modality services,  opening new operational or risk-sharing contracting opportunities and providing a platform for professional services long-term.

AI will of course also be centre stage, with a growing focus on integration into existing imaging IT platforms, with debate raging on the benefits of native integration versus AI marketplaces versus third party point solutions (see our more detailed AI expectations above). However, interoperability and readiness of imaging informatics platforms for AI will be a key topic bubbling under the surface. Platform consolidation, intra-network interoperability, interfacing and exchange with the EMR and “data liquidity” for diagnostic imaging and associated content is a vitally important and underserved topic. Many healthcare providers virtually attending will be therefore looking to solve these near-term problems in their imaging informatics strategy, in order to be ready for the more widespread advent of AI long-term.

Cloud Technology – Co-authored by Steve Holloway

Cloud Technology will also be a key topic, again reflecting the growing focus on virtual care brought about by COVID-19 and the ever-increasing presence of leading public cloud vendors in healthcare such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM. Most imaging IT vendors will have some level of cloud offering, with the majority intending to offer a range of a la carte deployment options, including hybrid, off-premise private and public cloud partnerships. Most will also however, only have some aspects of their portfolio cloud-enabled, generally clinical viewers, workflow, data management platforms and image exchange. Few, if any, will be able to offer fully cloud-enabled portfolios for all imaging IT modules; none can today offer full cloud-native platforms for the full gamut of enterprise imaging.

X-ray – Co-authored by Bhvita Jani

There is no doubt that the pivotal and fundamental role X-ray imaging has played in helping to tackle the pandemic will be showcased by X-ray exhibitors. Virtual attendees will also see how radiography solutions, in particular mobile digital radiography, has supported healthcare professionals at a time of critical demand by providing economic and efficient diagnostic imaging capabilities. Given the pandemic, X-ray exhibitors will also place extra focus on advancements in bedside imaging, such as contamination reduction as well developments to limit equipment interaction.

As a result of COVID-19 induced backlogs of diagnostic and interventional imaging volumes, radiology practices globally are being challenged by having to combine examinations of patients with chronic diseases, alongside provision of critical care to COVID-19 patients. Therefore, X-ray vendors will be presenting solutions to best tackle such operational challenges.

Artificial intelligence will, as always, take centre stage with continued expansion across the X-ray portfolio, however this year with a heightened focus. The pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation with adoption of artificial intelligence and analytics being fast-tracked. Within interventional radiology, AI algorithms could increasingly have a role in predicting the results of interventions and the long-term benefits of interventional procedures. From a diagnostic standpoint, X-ray market leaders will be debuting AI enabled automated radiology workflows to drive operational and clinical efficiency.

From an image guided therapy perspective, RSNA 2020 will display the expansion of procedures interventional radiology addresses since first being established, with new emerging technologies such as robotics, the use of artificial intelligence to aid navigation and augmented reality adding to the excitement.

Ultrasound – Co-authored by Mustafa Hassan

With the launch of new premium ultrasound platforms from several of the major vendors in the last two years or so, such as the LOGIQ E10 from GE, ACUSON Sequoia from Siemens and the EPIQ Elite from Philips, the focus at RSNA 2020 will be more on software than in previous years.

As a result of the increased importance in remote collaboration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also expect there will be increased focus on teleultrasound platforms such as the Collaboration Live platform from Philips, and the SonoSync platform from Samsung.

Another trend we expect to see is an increase in the diversity of ultrasound AI being offered by vendors. In previous years AI algorithms were mainly for breast imaging. This year, however, we expect vendors to showcase their developments in ultrasound AI for other areas such as hip, thyroid, lung and vascular analysis. With cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) continuing to grow worldwide, RSNA is also likely to witness an increased focus on solutions that assist in liver analysis, especially as the first FDA approved drugs to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are now entering the market.