top of page

3 Ways AI Could Be Integrated Into Radiology Workflow

August 24, 2018 -- As radiology artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms move toward clinical use, there are three possible models for how AI will best fit into the specialty's workflow, according to a talk on Thursday at the U.S. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging workshop.

As more AI algorithms are being developed, radiology needs to decide the best model for providing access to AI image analysis results and to utilize AI to triage high-priority cases for review by radiologists, said Dr. Paras Lakhani of Thomas Jefferson University.

He discussed AI radiology workflow examples at the Bethesda, MD, meeting, which was co-sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the American College of Radiology, the RSNA, and the Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research.

There are three possible models for AI use in radiology, according to Lakhani.

1. AI on Demand

In an AI "on-demand" model, radiologists would request the analysis of an image from the AI system when they want it.

"This could be for a particular image; it could be for a series of images for a patient like a CT scan, or even part of an image such as a liver lesion on a CT," he said.

After the AI results have been requested by the radiologist on the PACS software, the PACS would alert the AI server to the request. The AI results would then be sent back to the PACS or directly to the radiologist, he said. They could also be sent to the RIS or electronic health record (EHR), therefore supporting a PACS- or RIS/EHR-driven workflow at an institution.

This AI "on-demand" workflow option offers a number of advantages. Radiologists would be in control of soliciting the relevant AI interpretations; this could reduce false-positive AI interpretations because only select cases would receive AI analysis. On the downside, this approach requires a manual step. And there's also the potential for missed findings, as not all cases would be sent to the AI server, he said.

2. Automatic AI Analysis

Another option is to automatically send all studies from a certain modality or a certain exam type immediately for AI analysis, Lakhani said. To help radiologists prioritize their reading order, the algorithm could then highlight exams on their worklist that could potentially have a critical result, or even just flag cases that may be abnormal.

If the AI system is receiving images directly from the PACS or imaging modality, there are two workflow options: a radiologist would view the preliminary AI findings before they are added to the final report before being sent to the EHR or RIS, or the AI results would be routed directly to the EHR or RIS and immediately made available for clinicians, Lakhani said.

This first option would benefit from having the radiologist ensure the accuracy of the final report; a discrepancy management system wouldn't be needed, he said. However, this workflow model would reduce turnaround time because the AI results would not be sent directly to the EHR or RIS.