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The future of medical imaging

13 June 2018

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Reported by Toby Jackson , NERC-funded CSaP Policy Intern (April 2018 – July 2018)

Medical imaging technologies are advancing at an unprecedented rate, providing a challenge for NHS England to keep up to date with the latest developments.

To address this issue, CSaP convened a roundtable discussion with Professor John Bradley, NIHR Cambridge BRC, and CSaP Policy Fellows Dr Malte Gerhold, Care Quality Commission, and Michael Macdonnell, NHS England. The purpose of this discussion was to explore what new imaging technologies are on the horizon and what their implications might be for health and social care.

The discussion focused on the technologies themselves, the effect of introducing these technologies into current workflows and the potential barriers to adoption. In particular, the potential of artificial intelligence to provide a step change in our ability to interpret images (e.g. MRI scans) was balanced against the need for trust and accountability that an expert radiologist provides. Delegates discussed the potential benefits of integrating information from a range of sources, such as genetic data and clinical history, with state of the art imaging techniques. It was suggested that smarter, more targeted imaging could help mitigate the risk of 'over imaging'.

The importance of patient consent when introducing new technologies was emphasised. Different types of consent are necessary for screening, with a very large patient group and the likelihood of false positives, as opposed to more targeted care, with a more focused patient group who have a particular interest in the new technology being introduced. It was suggested that, in the future, patients could own their personal medical history and become an active partner in the care they receive.

(Photograph by liz west, creative commons)

Professor John Bradley

NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre

Dr Malte Gerhold

Care Quality Commission