Top 4 Trends from SIIM 2024

SIIM 2024 concluded this weekend, and what a meeting it was. The radiology industry’s premier imaging IT show returned to National Harbor, MD, for the first time since 2018, where the Biosphere-like environment of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center offered a respite from the muggy weather outside. 

SIIM is always a great place to check in on new imaging IT technologies like PACS, AI, and enterprise imaging, and hot topics at SIIM 2024 included…  

  • AI Needs to Get Real (World): Research studies showing AI’s value are fine, but developers need to show that AI works in real-world settings before wider adoption will occur. Fortunately that’s started with landmark studies published recently for use cases like breast and osteoporosis screening. Meanwhile, scuttlebutt on the SIIM 2024 exhibit floor reinforced that start-ups are navigating an ugly funding environment, and many industry observers are predicting a wave of AI consolidation. 
  • Outlook Clears for the Cloud: Cloud-based imaging has struggled to catch on for years, but that’s starting to change as healthcare providers warm to the concept of letting third parties oversee their patient data. And there are signs that imaging IT vendors that were quick to develop cloud-based versions of their PACS software are reaping the rewards.
  • Enterprise Imaging Grows Up: This year’s meeting marked the 10-year anniversary of enterprise imaging, as dated from the start of the SIIM-HIMSS collaboration in 2014. The anniversary is a milestone worth observing, but it also raises questions about what the next 10 years will look like, and how AI and data from other -ologies will be integrated into enterprise networks. 
  • Cybersecurity Takes Priority: Several high-profile cybersecurity breaches at healthcare vendors and providers in the last year highlight that not enough is being done to keep patient data secure. Will migrating to the cloud help? Only time will tell.

The Takeaway

SIIM’s collegiality and coziness has always been a selling point for the meeting, even back in the days when it was known as SCAR. This year didn’t disappoint, as deals got done and relationships were built at the Gaylord National.  

Be sure to visit our YouTube channel and LinkedIn page to view our video interviews from the floor of the meeting – it was great seeing you all at the show!

Better Together at SIIM

Humans have a deep-seated need for interpersonal contact, and understanding that need should guide not only how we structure our work relationships in the post-COVID era, but also our development and deployment of new technologies like AI in radiology. 

That’s according to James Whitfill, MD, who gave Thursday’s opening address at SIIM 2023. Whitfill’s talk – which was followed by a raucous audience participation exercise – was a ringing demonstration that in-person meetings like SIIM still have relevance despite the proliferation of Zoom calls and remote work. 

Whitfill, chief transformation officer at HonorHealth in Arizona and an internist at the University of Arizona, was chair of the SIIM board in 2020 when the society made the difficult decision to move its annual meeting to be fully online during the pandemic.

The experience led Whitfill to ponder whether technology designed to help us work and collaborate virtually was an adequate substitute for in-person interaction. Unfortunately, the research suggests otherwise: 

  • Numerous studies have demonstrated the negative effect that the isolation of the COVID pandemic has had on adolescent mental health and academic performance 
  • Loneliness can also have a negative effect on physical well-being, with a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report finding that prolonged isolation is the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day
  • Peer-reviewed studies have shown that people working in in-person collaborative environments are about 10% more productive and creative than those working virtually. 

Whitfill’s talk was especially on-point given recent research indicating that workers across different industries who used AI were more lonely than those who didn’t, a phenomenon that shouldn’t be ignored by those planning radiology’s AI-based future. 

That said, virtual technologies can still play a role in making access to information more equitable. Whitfill noted that some 160 people were following the SIIM proceedings entirely online, and they otherwise would not have been able to benefit from the meeting’s content.

To drive the point home, Whitfill then had audience members participate in a team-based Rochambeau competition that sent peals of laughter ringing through Austin Convention Center.  

The Takeaway
Whitfill’s point was underscored repeatedly by SIIM 2023 attendees, who reiterated the value of interpersonal connections and networking at the conference. It’s ironic that a meeting devoted at least in part to intelligence that’s artificial has made us better appreciate relationships that are real.

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