Artificial intelligence (AI)

The RCR believes that artificiaI intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and associated health technologies represent one of the most potentially fundamental changes in medical care since the inception of the NHS.  We strongly welcome the introduction of appropriately regulated and governed uses of AI related technologies to augment clinical practice. Far from making the clinical radiologist and clinical oncologist of the future redundant, as some press has suggested, the use of AI will help standardise many aspects of clinical care, will optimise processes, and allow greater use of clinical data to inform best practice and outcomes.

For these technologies to translate into patient benefit and clinician support as swiftly and smoothly as possible, we are urging all developers to synergise on the following core principles:

  • Work to common standards that facilitate universal applicability, including extant standards for clinical practice as set out by the RCR as well as other stakeholders including the National Insitute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the British Standards Institute (BSI)
  • Assure the quality, safety and security of data used
  • Take account of current and emerging regulation by healthcare and digital economy regulators
  • Be clinically led so that effort is directed where it can most readily be used in practice to relieve hard-pressed NHS services
  • Achieve the widest possible use of digital data for the benefit of UK patients and the population as a whole

What the RCR will do

Recognising the risks associated with unfettered implementation of disruptive technologies to patient care and outcomes, our approach is to support all our members in becoming early adopters, embracing the technology as it develops – working wherever possible with innovators.  

To this end, we will:

  • Develop resources for members and fellows to help their understanding of AI and its clinical utility – including regular updates on progress of relevant tools in development
  • Champion the case for progressive IT infrastructure to enable use of AI seamlessly within clinical practice
  • Develop infrastructure and mechanisms to support services in auditing the impact of AI on clinical practice including workflow and patient outcomes

Working closely with NHSX, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NICE, Industry and the NHS national bodies, we will provide clinical expertise and feedback to ensure pragmatism, develop guidance for practitioners and generate numbers (where appropriate) to build a case for necessary changes to IT infrastructure. Through the Radiology Informatics Committee we will continue to develop resources for members and Fellows to help their understanding of IT possibilities and their ability to enhance working practices. We will also engage positively with industry suppliers to highlight the needs of radiology departments and lobby for changes to deliver the best patient care.

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AI: stakeholder event

Outcomes and discussions from a stakeholder event hosted by the RCR