How Medical Imaging is Redefining Healthcare

John Memarian, VP at digital healthcare innovator CitiusTech explores medical imaging, including how the technology is impacting healthcare

In 1895 the discovery of x-rays by Professor Wilhelm Röntgen changed the trajectory of healthcare forever, and saw the end of the invasive, impractical procedures such as surgery, tissue removal, and staining that had come before. X-rays expanded the knowledge of the human body exponentially, and allowed healthcare professionals to peer into patients without having to undertake risky procedures. 

In the early 20th century, World War II saw sonar developments that developed into early ultrasound technologies to address the limitations of X-rays in visualising soft tissues. The 1960s saw tomography techniques like CT and PET scans produce three-dimensional representations that allowed healthcare professionals to use dynamic three-dimensional views of the living brain via MRI scans. Today, advancements have enriched medical professionals' diagnostic acumen, fostering quicker and more informed patient care across the continuum.

With 25 years of clinical and technical experiences including extensive hands-on experiences in both invasive and non-invasive adult and paediatric imaging and surgical procedures, John Memarian is a leading voice in interventional imaging. Having held various healthcare executive roles in the provider sector, he is currently VP at digital healthcare innovator CitiusTech. Memarian has consulting and business development experiences in bioscience, IT Solutions, cloud technologies, enterprise imaging, digital pathology and clinical genomes and has played a leading role in launching new innovative technologies including Thromboelastography (TEG), Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA), DICOMized digital pathology and POC clinical genomics in US and international markets.

He sat down with us at Healthcare Digital to discuss how digital imaging is impacting healthcare.

John Memarian, VP at CitiusTech

What impact can medical imagery have on healthcare?

According to a 2023 study, revenue in the diagnostic imaging devices market is projected to show an annual growth rate of 4.67%, leading to a market volume of US$57.86bn by 2028. As the prevalence of chronic diseases escalates and our population ages, the demand for invaluable medical imaging procedures only intensifies further. And with this, the current state of the healthcare industry bears witness to many trends poised to reshape the field. These trends are driven by innovation, accessibility, and the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-based solutions, and mobile technology.  

Here are some of the leading trends in medical imaging that are on top of the minds of many C-suite executives across healthcare institutions. 

  • Data-driven revolution: Traditional hardware-driven medical imaging, exemplified by devices like X-ray machines and MRI scanners, has been the bedrock of diagnostics. Yet, the rise of data-driven solutions has expanded healthcare personnel’s capabilities exponentially. By leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms, professionals can analyse vast datasets and glean nuanced insights that were once elusive. 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): AI and ML have infiltrated the realm of medical imaging, promising faster and more precise diagnoses. These technologies can analyse medical images, identifying intricate patterns that were previously unattainable. The result is the potential for early disease detection and improved patient outcomes.
  • Cloud adoption: Cloud adoption is a key trend reshaping medical imaging. The cloud provides a scalable, cost-effective, and secure platform for storing and processing medical images. It facilitates seamless data access and sharing, allowing healthcare professionals to collaborate across locations and access patient data in real time.
  • Mobile and portable imaging systems: In an era of convenience, mobile and portable imaging systems are becoming increasingly prevalent. These systems extend medical imaging services to remote areas, allowing patients to receive diagnostic imaging in their homes or local healthcare facilities. This accessibility reduces the burden of travel, ensuring that more individuals can access timely care. 
  • Advancements in imaging equipment: The recent breakthroughs in imaging equipment are accelerating the evolution of medical imaging, setting new standards for accuracy and patient safety. Notable progress is observed across various imaging modalities: 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI technology has significantly improved, offering faster scanning times, enhanced image resolution, and reduced radiation exposure. AI/ML algorithms have found their way into MRI, aiding radiologists in detecting subtle abnormalities, potentially leading to earlier intervention. 
  • Computed tomography (CT) scanning: CT scanning, an indispensable tool in modern medicine, now boasts faster scans, superior image quality, and reduced radiation exposure. Dual-energy CT scanning has emerged, allowing for precise differentiation between healthy and diseased tissues. 
  • Ultrasound technology: Ultrasound technology has evolved with advancements in software and hardware, enabling the creation of more detailed 3D images and improving image quality. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has emerged as a valuable tool for identifying blood flow patterns in tumours, improving cancer diagnoses. 
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning: PET scanning has reached new heights with combined PET/MRI scanning. This fusion of imaging modalities produces more accurate and detailed images, particularly crucial in cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

What challenges and opportunities does medical imaging present us with?

Keeping these trends in mind, we must weigh the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. The foremost hurdle is the management of overwhelmingly large datasets encompassing both imaging and non-imaging information.

This data deluge, often siloed and fragmented, poses a formidable obstacle in unifying and analysing imaging data from multiple sources. Additionally, standardisation in imaging protocols and procedures remains a hurdle as well, especially in multi-site clinical trials where consistency is paramount. 

However, within these challenges lie remarkable opportunities. The key is to harness the power of analytics and efficient data management. Advanced analytics can transform this wealth of data into actionable insights, facilitating more accurate diagnoses and personalised treatments. Moreover, streamlined data management, coupled with cloud-based solutions, can bridge geographical gaps, extending healthcare accessibility to even the most remote corners of the world. Meanwhile, standardisation also enhances data accuracy and ensures patients receive the correct diagnoses and treatments. But to truly push the boundaries of medical imaging, investment in the latest and most recent technology is essential.

How can medical imaging be enhanced with cloud-based solutions?

A new era of medical imaging with cloud-based solutions is emerging, empowering  healthcare professionals to surmount challenges, embrace innovation, and elevate patient care, making medical imaging a cornerstone of best-in-class healthcare delivery. 

Some of the ways cloud-based healthcare solutions can help elevate medical imaging include:

  • Data processing pipeline: FHIR repository helps streamline data access for downstream applications, maximising the utility of healthcare data.
  • Healthcare data lake imaging solution: Cloud-based imaging solution enhances data accessibility, effectively addressing latency concerns. It seamlessly supports traditional DICOM web interfaces for application development.
  • Time and cost savings: It drastically reduces development timelines and costs, offering a faster route to healthcare application deployment.
  • Analytics opportunities: Data and AI models help unlock actionable insights, improving patient experiences, operational efficiency, and clinical data analysis.
  • AI and ML operationalisation: Cloud infrastructure simplifies AI deployment, enabling scalable solutions in healthcare.
  • Security and infrastructure: Solutions adhere to robust security standards and infrastructure, instilling confidence in data security.
  • Comprehensive healthcare data platform: Healthcare data lake handles diverse healthcare data modalities at scale, supporting a range of healthcare and life sciences use cases.
  • Innovation: This approach helps reduce costs, enhance data access, and develop pre-trained computer vision models, catalysing healthcare innovation. 

What does the future hold for medical imaging?

With ongoing investments in technology and research, we anticipate further advancements, ultimately enhancing public health on a global scale. As we navigate the current medical imaging domain and the fusion of AI and cloud-based solutions, medical professionals will have seamless access to vital patient data, even in remote or underserved regions, for healthier care outcomes. This new era for medical imaging with cloud-based solutions will be a catalyst for essential change in healthcare delivery. 

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