The Bionic Radiologist: avoiding blurry pictures and providing greater insights

Radiology images and reports have long been digitalized. However, the potential of the more than 3.6 billion radiology examinations performed annually worldwide has largely gone unused in the effort to digitally transform health care. The Bionic Radiologist is a concept that combines humanity and digitalization for better health care integration of radiology. At a practical level, this concept will achieve critical goals: (1) testing decisions being made scientifically on the basis of disease probabilities and patient preferences; (2) image analysis done consistently at any time and at any site; and (3) treatment suggestions that are closely linked to imaging results and are seamlessly integrated with other information. The Bionic Radiologist will thus help avoiding missed care opportunities, will provide continuous learning in the work process, and will also allow more time for radiologists’ primary roles: interacting with patients and referring physicians. To achieve that potential, one has to cope with many implementation barriers at both the individual and institutional levels. These include: reluctance to delegate decision making, a possible decrease in image interpretation knowledge and the perception that patient safety and trust are at stake. To facilitate implementation of the Bionic Radiologist the following will be helpful: uncertainty quantifications for suggestions, shared decision making, changes in organizational culture and leadership style, maintained expertise through continuous learning systems for training, and role development of the involved experts. With the support of the Bionic Radiologist, disparities are reduced and the delivery of care is provided in a humane and personalized fashion.