According to key speaker Bruce Hillman, Professor of Medical Imaging and Public Health at the University of Virginia, ‘accessed innovation’ has proved a remarkable success story during the past forty years. ‘It has brought radiology up from a specialty hidden in basements … to being one of the premier specialties in all of medicine,’ he said. ‘What we need now is innovation that will carry us into the future, responding to the major paradigmatic changes in medicine.’ This includes innovations geared at enabling ‘P4’, precision medicine – at affordable cost.
Investors are more cautious
Innovations have typically come from independent individuals in academia to be translated into clinically viable technologies by the industry, the expert continued. ‘This cycle has brought us technologies such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, and PET. Today, however, there is a highly disadvantageous milieu for this – due to the overall emphasis on cost and further pressures, such as a general bias against medical imaging. ‘These factors are making companies cautious about investments in innovation,’ Prof. Hillman believes. Thus firms will approach innovations rather strategically, with an eye towards the cost and the potential return on investment. Care providers need to be careful about the technologies that may interest them, in terms of when they purchase and what the actual value will be to patients as well as their individual institution. This really holds true for technological innovations in all medical fields including radiology.
‘Today, new technologies tend to be disruptive,’ Prof. Hillman concluded: radiologists may tend to be rather satisfied about how their business is progressing and not worry too much about innovation. ‘But new technologies may well sneak up on you and put you out of business before you know it.’
To ensure they can continue being the provider, radiologists therefore need to ‘put their feet into waters’, while continuing their conventional work, even if emerging technologies may appear to be crude and costly. Information about innovations will increasingly come from social networks and further online sources.