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A New Force in Imaging at RSNA

Back in 1980, a bald guy sporting a computer/communication system grafted to the back of his head followed Lando Calrissian around Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. His name, I learned recently, was Lobot. He has become a meme of sorts for integrating computers with humans.

While Lobot was ahead of our time long ago in a galaxy far, far away, radiology and all of health care are becoming increasingly intertwined with IT. Medical practice will require more human interaction with digital data, which provides an opportunity for radiologists in imaging’s future.

That trend is certainly reflected in the program for RSNA 2015. Sunday’s President’s Address at RSNA 2015, “Going Boldly into Radiology's Technological Future: Why Our Profession Must Embrace Innovation,” will almost certainly touch on the topic, though I’m certainly not privy to Ronald L. Arenson, MD’s speech. Similarly, General Electric Chair and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt will speak on “Redefining Innovation” in Monday’s New Horizons lecture. Further, important topics such as EHR expansion, clinical decision support, comparative effectiveness, and Big Data all relate closely to the intersection of people and computers—the Lobot Effect, if you will.

To be clear, I am not advocating that radiologists attach small computers to the base of their skulls; the iSkull is a bad idea no matter what the folks at Apple might try to tell you. (If you think otherwise, perhaps you should vet that decision with your spouse.) Although it is fair to say that being perpetually attached to a smartphone isn’t that much different, just more hands-free.

But, seriously, leaders in this area will have prominent roles in health care and significant input into the direction of things. Radiology was a pioneer in the digital evolution of medicine. Radiologists have a head start in this area, which represents an opportunity in this health care transition. Granted, this is a preparing-for-the-future sort of endeavor rather than a trying-to-hold-on-to-what-I-have effort. The farther you are from the end of your career, the more important of an opportunity this presents. Keep that in mind as you head for Chicago.

— Jim Knaub is editor of Radiology Today.