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Q&A with ESR president, Lorenzo Derchi

par Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | February 26, 2019
European News
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Have any new problems emerged in the last 12 months?
LD: I do not see any specifically “new” problems. However, the issue of artificial intelligence (AI) is still very prominent, as it has been continuously growing during the past year. At ECR 2019, its current importance will be shown not only by the number of sessions in which invited experts will discuss the present and future applications of AI in radiology but, more importantly, by the 263 scientific abstracts which have been received on this topic. This is a clear indication that there are many research and clinical centers within the radiological community working on AI, and that there is a willingness from the radiologists to be an active part in the application of AI, with the topic entering into everyday clinical practice.

HCB News: There is concern among some American radiologists that artificial intelligence could compete for their jobs in the future. How do European counterparts view AI?

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LD: I am sure that some of my European colleagues are concerned as well, but let me assure them that this is not what the future development of AI will bring for radiologists.

Myself, and indeed all of us at the ESR, encourage all our members and radiologists worldwide to view AI not as a threat, but as an addition to the radiological toolkit, which can, and already does, help us with our work and ultimately benefits patients. Especially when it comes to big data, there is no way around artificial intelligence; there are tasks which simply can’t be done without AI.

So will AI change radiology? Definitely, but if you take a look back at the history of radiology then you will see that there have always been technological innovations and revolutions in our field. Radiology has changed a lot since its humble beginnings, but a constant is that it has always benefited from a close relationship between technology and the human knowledge and expertise, and I am convinced that this will not change in the future.

I would like to ask your readers if they are familiar with the “three laws of robots” created by Isaac Asimov, the great science fiction writer. The future cannot be predicted, but can be prepared, and we have to prepare ourselves for this new challenge.

HCB News: What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming congress?
LD: This is a tough question to answer in brief. First of all, ECR 2019 is the 25th congress in Vienna, which is a major anniversary for us and shows how far the ESR/ECR and European radiology, in general, have come. I can’t reveal too much as of now, but let me tell you that to honor the anniversary, we have come up with a couple of fascinating new things for ECR 2019, including a breathtaking opening ceremony, the “Grand Opening” which will explore the theme of the “Five Senses”, and other new concepts that will leave participants speechless.

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