Last post we talked about two of the five healthcare trends that mid-size imaging departments need to watch in 2020.  This post will be covering the other three.  (Yes, AI is on this list)

3.  The expansion in the number of devices connected to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will necessitate a serious investment in additional cybersecurity

If you by chance haven’t heard of the term “Internet of Things” (IoT), it is a term used to describe devices other than computers being connected to the internet and to each other.  Fridges, dryers, washers, a certain failed set of eyeglasses (that’s still trying to make a comeback), among many other common devices are now connected and sharing information.

This trend has carried over to the medical industry with automatic insulin monitors and injectors, wearable ECGs, and remote patient monitoring devices.  In radiology, we’ve mostly seen IoT MRIs, CT scanners and similar devices fitted with remote monitoring from the manufacturers to ensure that needed repairs are identified and taken care of quickly.  There is also talk of a connected contrast medium injector to notify doctors of negative reactions to the contrast injections.

The rise in connected devices in the medical digital ecosystem presents numerous severe security risks.  More access points and lower security standards on these devices provide hackers with more opportunities to access the system at large. 

One of the biggest cyber-attacks this decade, the Mirai Botnet, caused a large portion of the internet to just simply stop working, including giants like CNN, Twitter, and Netflix.  The scariest part of this attack was EASY it was to implement. This attack was started by a college kid and his friends taking over a few IoT cameras. 

With new versions of the Mirai malware still out there and 78% of all malware activity in 2018 being driven by IoT Botnets, the security landscape of 2020 is definitely in need of an upgrade. 

So, despite these scary implications, adoption of IoT devices in the medical space will continue.  The efficiencies and conveniences of features like, automatic note taking and real-time radiation dose information that IoMT devices would unlock are too exciting, too beneficial, and fit right in line with the ever-increasing demand for convenience in healthcare. 

Cyber Security will just have to catch up.

Expect to see a lot more articles, publications, and regulatory talk about security in the upcoming months.  New security standards will need to be set soon, and new tools will need to be developed to secure the new, expanded shape of the digital medical landscape. 

For now, if you are considering new equipment purchases that include IoMT devices, do your due diligence to make sure the new devices are just as secure as the rest of your network.

4.  The AUC requirements requiring the use Clinical Decision Support Mechanisms (CDSMs) will continue into its penal phase in 2021 as scheduled, driving wide-spread adoption of CDSMs in the Imaging Workflow

There may be a few of you holding onto the hope that the enforcement phase of PAMA (Protecting Access to Medicare Act) will be delayed another six months, but to us here at medQ, that doesn’t seem likely.  January 1, 2020 has been the start date for the AUC-CDSM requirement for the past SIX years, ever since PAMA was signed into law in April 1, 2014.  CMS will argue that the granting of an educational period on top of the previous 6 years was plenty of time for the industry to prepare.  The American College of Radiology confirms Jan 1, 2021 as the first date by which Medicare reimbursement could be denied without the documented use of CDSM.

There are already 18 approved CDSMs available to the market (LogicNets, the provider of medQ’s own integrated CDSM, being one of them), the likes of which are already being used by more than 2000 imaging departments/practices in the US.

While I think we can all agree that the imaging community has its fair share of late adopters, you can expect that the majority of the market will have their plans in place to adopt an AUC-CDSM service by late Q2, or early Q3.  Make sure to adopt a CDSM early enough that your referring physicians and billing teams have time to get used to the changes in your workflow before January 1, 2021.

(now, finally, the one you have all been expecting)

5.  The use of AI will continue to grow more prevalent as IT firms attempt to develop AI to be more than just a diagnostic aid.

Capturing the imaginations of many Radiologists, earning (yet again) its very own exhibition space, and being featured in over 45% of the presentations at RSNA19’s Innovation Theater, the use of AI has been the most popular topic of radiology conversations for years.  In 2019 we saw huge strides in developing AI into a comprehensive diagnostic tool.  For example, AIs trained to spot abnormalities in study images were prominently on display at RSNA.  The FDA has cleared several iterations of diagnostic AIs for use in US markets in 2020.

But what about the rest of the Imaging Workflow?

medQ and other imaging informatics firms are attempting to use AI to unlock new efficiencies in the imaging workflow and reduce the pressure of non-core activities on Radiologists.  We’ve already seen other industries adopt AI in helping to manage communications, inform better asset utilization, and unlock additional actionable insights from their performance analytics. 

The first step will be for firms to be able to better leverage the data that Radiology AI is already generating.  Pre-reads made by an AI will need to be included in the reports, and will be used to in from the study’s urgency.  AI will also be used to check RAD reports for consistency, to validate scheduling, and to reduce duplicate orders, to name a few solutions.

2020 is the year that AI will begin to provide these types of solutions for medical imaging on a broad scale.

Be on the lookout for these new solutions as they come out.  medQ is gearing up for releasing its own AI-enhanced workflow and Smart Worklist come Q3, so make sure you stay tuned for that.