Penny Pinnock

Unleashing AI Potential in Medical Imaging

By Penny Pinnock
Penny Pinnock

Due to a shortage of radiologists and other imaging specialists, AI-enabled technologies are of significant interest—and hold particular promise—in medical imaging. In this article, Penny Pinnock of Siemens Financial Services (SFS), discusses the routes to investment available for healthcare organizations looking to acquire efficiency boosting technology while protecting their financial health.

Artificial intelligence (A)I technology has the potential for substantial applications in the world of health care. Physical applications of the technology can change the way we invent and build medical robots and devices, while virtual applications based on algorithmic learning have the potential to drastically speed up the diagnostic process.[1]

A recent trial in Sweden, for example, demonstrated that AI-enabled technology has the capability to almost halve the human workload in breast cancer screenings.[2] Where previous studies have used AI to retrospectively assess scans, this trial compared AI-supported screening directly with standard care and found that AI support resulted in a substantially lower screen-reading workload for radiologists, while maintaining a similar rate of cancer detection. Additionally, a study from the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center used an AI model to detect Alzheimer’s disease risk with 90% accuracy.[3]

The efficiency gains from AI are of particular value to the world of medical imaging given the shortage of radiologists and imaging specialists in many countries. The UK, for example, has a 29% shortfall of clinical radiologists with health systems spending millions on managing excess demand.[4] In the U.S., a recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates the country could face a shortage of up to 35,600 radiologists and other specialists by 2034.[5]

When used in conjunction with human teams, AI-driven technology offers a tremendous opportunity to greatly speed up treatment and boost quality of care. It’s no surprise then that many healthcare providers—both public and private—are planning their long-term strategy around investing in AI.[6]

Financial Pressures

Private healthcare organizations are frequently stepping in to help alleviate the pressure faced by national health services; to do this they need to invest in the most efficient technologies to keep pace with demand.

According to recent research from Siemens Financial Services[7], Al in Diagnostics is one of the fastest growing medtech markets in the world with a 32.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). This is indicative of the importance the healthcare sector has put on acquiring this technology due to the disproportionately positive contribution to efficiency it makes. It therefore represents a serious and urgent investment challenge to those healthcare providers looking to improve diagnostic processes to deal with demand and prevent soaring healthcare costs in the future.

Access to the latest diagnostic equipment and technology is crucial for healthcare organisations to keep pace with digital transformation and ensure the delivery of improved patient care. However, at a time when healthcare funding is under pressure across public and private spheres, investing in this new diagnostic imaging equipment may feel out of reach. This is where specialist finance solutions are helping to bridge the gap.

The Role of Specialist Finance Solutions

Healthcare financiers who have an in-depth understanding of healthcare technology and its applications can provide cost effective financing solutions for a wide variety of medical equipment and technology, enabling healthcare organizations to acquire the solutions they need without having to commit precious capital budgets.

While digital technologies, such as AI, can make a substantial difference to the effectiveness of healthcare delivery, the additional benefits and improved outcomes will likely be gained over a period of years. Healthcare organizations need financing arrangements that take this into account to remain financially viable, and they are unlikely to get this from generalist financiers.

A Managed Service Contract is an example of an arrangement that guarantees an agreed level of equipment uptime, by building performance criteria into the operating agreement. Such an agreement would typically be financed by a specialist organisation and used by healthcare bodies to develop or upgrade the whole medical imaging department or radiology equipment fleet.

Such financing solutions spread the cost of the technology over an agreed financing period. Payments are arranged to align with the expected benefits that result from the use of the technology, such as improved operational efficiency. By removing the need for a large initial outlay, finance arrangements like these can help improve cash flow and working capital.

Artificial Intelligence has a range of applications in the field of medical imaging that could make a tangible benefit to healthcare outcomes. Global shortages of medical staff mean that the value of significant efficiency gains is immeasurable. For healthcare providers, investment in state-of-the-art technology can be facilitated with specialist finance solutions that flex the cost of investment to match the expected benefits or cash flow for each healthcare organization. This means providers can deliver a higher quality of care without having to worry about constrained budgets, and where relevant, support national healthcare systems with ever-growing patient demand.







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Penny Pinnock