Is a robot about to get your job? Probably not, according to Thomas Davenport and Keith Dreyer, writing in the Harvard Business Review.
Davenport, a professor of management and IT, and Dreyer, vice chairman of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, don’t deny that AI could change the profession.
“Radiological practice would certainly benefit from systems that can read and interpret multiple images quickly, because the number of images has increased much faster over the last decade than the number of radiologists,” they say.
That does not mean AI can take on all the roles of a radiologist, however.
AI would have a hard time consulting with other physicians on diagnosis and treatment, treating diseases, performing image-guided medical interventions or defining the technical parameters of imaging examinations to be performed, for example.
Furthermore, ubiquitous AI remains some way off, and in radiology it faces a challenge because there is no aggregated source of labelled data to train the machines with. Finally, medical regulation has yet to catch up with many of the finer points concerning AI’s use in radiology.
For all this, say Davenport and Dreyer, it makes sense for radiologists to play a leading role in helping the profession take on this new technology. “The only radiologists whose jobs may be threatened are the ones who refuse to work with AI,” they say.
If predicted improvements in deep learning image analysis take place, they say, then “providers, patients and payers will gravitate toward the radiologists who have figured out how to work effectively alongside AI.”
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