My RSNA Breakfast Predictions

My predictions for healthcare in 2019

December 19, 2018
by Philip F. Jacobus, CEO
Each year at RSNA, HealthCare Business News invites our PR contacts, marketing contacts and a few advertisers to join us at the Hyatt adjacent to McCormick Place for a breakfast buffet.

The event is our little way of saying thank you to some of the people who help make our news a success year-round.

This year was no different and, as always, I shared my industry predictions for the coming year.

Here are the things I expect we will be talking about in 2019. Each item also links to a story we wrote that addresses the trend:

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE - AI is poised to transform radiology in unimaginable ways. We have been covering this all year in our news and as machine learning solutions get FDA approval and enter the clinical space, we expect to be covering it even more.

THE RACE TO HIGH FIELD MR IS OVER - Throughput and image quality are becoming more important than field strength when it comes to MR. Software, including iterative reconstruction and emerging AI tools, are letting MR do more with lower strength magnets.

BREAST DENSITY AWARENESS WILL GROW - Dr. Nancy Cappello, a great advocate for patient rights and breast density awareness, passed away a few weeks before RSNA. Thanks to her work, most states have some kind of breast density notification law in place. By this time next year, virtually all of them will.

HYBRID SYSTEMS FOR BETTER OUTCOMES - Combining linear accelerators with imaging to ensure dose optimization and the sparing of healthy tissue is going to become more prevalent. Emerging technology such as MR-linac and PET-linac are poised to change the way we think about radiotherapy.

TECH GIANTS AT THE DOOR - This was Google Cloud's second year at RSNA. Facebook is working with NYU to speed up MR. IBM is at the forefront of AI in healthcare and Amazon is testing the waters in a variety of healthcare markets. Nobody loves disrupting markets like the Goliaths of the tech world.

FOCUS ON WORKFLOW - As imaging IT like PACS and RIS become smarter and more integrated the enterprise, patient data will follow them through the care continuum. This new focus on workflow will pay dividends by making providers more efficient, providing more personalized care to a larger volume of patients.

PROTON THERAPY: ACCESS AND TREATMENT IMPROVE - Every year we see proton therapy grow and 2019 will be no different. In the U.S. we are expecting to see insurance coverage get better as evidence for the treatment's value becomes more defined. We are also expecting Flash therapy -- where the beam is delivered in high doses, at ultra-high speeds over fewer sessions -- to make waves as researchers explore its clinical value.

RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS BECOME DOMESTIC - With the support of government funding, U.S. companies are closing in on their ability to supply Moly-99 for SPECT imaging. This is good news considering the precarious global supply chain currently involved in obtaining the tracer.

THERANOSTICS - One of the most exciting things happening in molecular imaging concerns the combining of diagnostics with therapy. While one tracer finds the tumor, another goes in and kills it. Mounting evidence shows that these techniques could make a huge impact on diseases such as prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, among others.

MR WITHOUT CHILLERS - We are already seeing some manufacturers, such as Philips, introduce MR systems that require no chillers or vent pipes. That means helium becomes less of a factor and system maintenance is simplified.

ACA REPEAL TALK IS OVER - Now that Democrats are taking over the House of Representatives, expect to see more bipartisan efforts to move the needle on healthcare.

REPLACEMENT CYCLE CONTINUES TO GROW - Providers can't afford to swap out or upgrade their capital equipment. This trend puts increasing importance on total cost of ownership as a purchasing factor and flexible service contracts will become more popular as facility's seek to avoid downtime.

BIOMEDS TAKE A SEAT AT THE LEADERSHIP TABLE - As silos come down, HTMs will be working more with the IT department to keep equipment integrated and secure from cyber threats. They will also taking a bigger role in supply chain and articulating to the C-suite what equipment must be replaced and what to replace it with.

PROGRESS ON THE THIRD-PARTY AND OEM FRONT - The FDA issued a report saying additional regulations on third-parties was not warranted based on the information it collected. After RSNA it hosting a workshop to better distinguish 'servicing' from 'remanufacturing' and I am optimistic that these discussions will pave the way for improved market competition and transparency to benefit hospitals and their patients.

CONSOLIDATION CONTINUES - Whether it be third-party equipment service, device and software manufacturers, imaging centers or hospitals... consolidation in healthcare will continue strong for another year. When those deals take place, you can be sure you'll hear about it first on HealthCare Business News.

What do you think? Anything you would add to the list?