A shortage of senior radiologists around the UK is causing delays for patients, and affecting cancer and other medical care. Radiologists' leaders say the situation is unacceptable and must be tackled by ministers. Figures suggest their workload of reading and interpreting scans has increased by 30% between 2012 and 2017. But the number of consultant radiologists in England has gone up by just 15% in that time. The number of these senior posts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has remained static over that period.
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A new study suggests that an artificial intelligence system may be able to perform tasks as accurately as a highly trained radiologist. The paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute outlines how an AI system can accurately detect evaluate digital mammography in breast cancer screenings. Breast cancer screenings are an important tool in the early detection of breast cancer and the reduction of breast cancer-related mortality. Screenings currently are very labor intensive due to the high volume of women needing scans. In some parts of the world, including the U.S. there is a scarcity in the number of highly trained breast screening radiologists which has led to the development of AI systems that can do some of the tasks related to evaluating mammograms.
One of Henry Ford's most famous quotes is, "If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." As the story goes, he went on to create the Ford Motor company with the vision of having an automobile owned by every family in America. He then was able to mass produce automobiles at an affordable price while simultaneously being able to pay workers more money and creating disposable income for a new class of people. Diagnostic medicine is at the same turning point. Radiologists (as all physicians) are measured on production metrics called an RVU or a relative value unit.