Artificial Intelligence, Imaging IT

Top 6 Radiology Trends of 2024’s First Half

You can put the first half of 2024 in the books … and it was full of major developments for radiology. What follows are the top six trends in medical imaging – one for each month of the first half.

  • The Rise of AI for Breast Screening – The first half of 2024 saw the publication of studies conducted in Norway and Denmark that underlined the potential role of AI for breast screening, particularly for ruling out exams most likely to be normal. But research conducted within Europe’s paradigm of double-reading workflow for 2D mammograms may not be so relevant in the US, and more studies are needed.
  • Mammography Guideline Controversy – Changes to breast screening guidelines in both the US and Canada were first-half headlines. In the US, the USPSTF made official its proposal to lower to 40 the recommended age to start screening, but many were disappointed it failed to provide stronger guidance on dense breast screening. Things were even worse in Canada, where a federal task force declined to lower the screening age from 50 to 40. Canadian advocates have vowed to fight on at the provincial level. 
  • AI Funding Pullback Continues – The ongoing pullback in venture capital funding for AI developers continues. A study by Signify Research found that not only did VC funding fall 19% in 2023, but it got off to a slow start in 2024 as well. The new environment could be putting more pressure on AI firms to demonstrate ROI to both healthcare providers and investors, while also having broader implications – a major AI conference rescheduled a show that had been on the calendar for May, citing “market conditions.” On the positive side, Tempus AI’s IPO boomed, raising $412M
  • Opportunistic Screening Gains Steam – The concept of opportunistic screening – detecting pathology on medical images acquired for other indications – has been around for a while. But it’s only really started to catch on with the development of AI algorithms that can process thousands of images without a radiologist’s involvement. The first half of 2024 saw publication of several exciting studies for indications including detecting osteoporosis, scoring coronary artery calcifications, and predicting major adverse cardiac events
  • ChatGPT Frenzy Subsides – The frenzied interest in ChatGPT and other generative AI large language models seen throughout 2023 seemed to subside in the first half of 2024. A quick search of The Imaging Wire archives, for example, finds just four references to ChatGPT in the first six months of 2024 compared to 21 citations at the same point in 2023. LLM developers need to address major issues – from GenAI’s “hallucination effect” to potential misuse of the technology – before LLMs can be used in clinical settings.

The Takeaway

The midpoint of the year is a great time to take stock of radiology’s progress and the issues that have bubbled to the surface over the past six months. In 2024’s back half, look for renewed attention on breast screening as the FDA’s density reporting rules go into effect in September, and keep on the lookout for signs that real-world AI adoption is growing, even as AI developers look for consolidation opportunities.

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