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Past, present and future — 50 years of digital transformation

The digital transformation of radiology started in 1971 when the first computed tomography (CT) scan was performed at the Atkinson Morley Hospital, Wimbledon. The brain scan took five minutes to complete and an additional 150 minutes for the data to be processed into images: each image having a total resolution of 80×80 pixels. Up until this revolutionary scan, it was not possible to generate diagnostic images of multiple anatomical slices. This innovation led to improved patient outcomes with earlier and more accurate diagnosis through detailed identification of disease and trauma thanks to advanced visualization. Even though the diagnostic possibilities of CT were exponentially greater than plain film, CT reports were completed in the same manner: free-text dictation by radiologists for transcription by the secretariat.

The CT scanner was the first device to drive digital transformation – creating momentum for innovations in digital healthcare. In 1981, computerized voice recognition (VR) was first envisioned to reduce the long delay incurred by the dictation-transcription process. In the 1990s, forced by the rapid growth of digital imaging (CT and MR), the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard was introduced to facilitate digital data exchange. This was quickly followed by the first Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), developed to manage the growing quantity of digital images and other related information.

Fast forward to 2021 – analogue imaging is almost non-existent in radiology. The performance of digital imaging systems is growing at an incredible pace, with much greater imaging resolution and measurable detail being achieved. PACS/RIS systems have evolved to hold this growing amount of data, while improving interoperability for interconnected networks, supporting improved collaboration between radiologists and radiographers, both on- and off-site.

Professor Dr Alexander Huppertz, board-certified diagnostic radiologist says: “In my opinion, our reports should be measured on the quality of the facts they present and not on semantics and nuance. Radiology reporting must evolve from the free-text dictation that has changed little since the initial digitisation of radiology. We need to instil radiology reporting with our best understanding of the complexities of modern imaging and part ways with the working methods that stand in the way of making progress. Therefore, we need to adopt tools that best interface with our evolving IT environment; meet the expectations of referring physicians, requiring reports that are concise and to the point.

“The concept of structured reporting has been highlighted in the radiology literature as a process to minimize ambiguity and increase robustness of the data through standardizing of the parameters of data collection. Ideally, standard data generated through structured reporting should lead to increased comparability of results, efficient data analysis and big-data learning. We must modernise reporting so it actively contributes to the generation of meaningful and usable data.

“The objections to this philosophy have been directed at the template-heavy, time-consuming and inflexible solutions that have been proposed thus far. I believe the best path forward is using ‘guided reporting’: a concept of my design. This is why I founded the company Neo Q, to develop and deliver the revolution in radiology reporting – RadioReport.”

RadioReport and the guided reporting philosophy modernises reporting for the first time in decades bringing with it new opportunities for the efficient delivery of findings in a structured and standardised format. Please let us know if your team is interested in evaluating RadioReport.


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