AI in Imaging: A Patient’s Perspective

A patient wants radiologists to remain involved in AI era.


To explain how I view artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine, I like to use car repair as an analogy. As car repair is about vehicle maintenance, medicine is, in essence, about the maintenance and repair of people.

In car repair, I don’t object to my mechanic hooking my car up to a computer for a diagnostic read in the garage. Just as in medicine, I don’t object to my radiologist using AI and other advanced technologies to help identify and diagnose my health issues.

In fact, I support both my mechanic and my physician using smart technologies to inform their conclusions. For a long time, experts have noted that computer predictions are often more accurate than human decisions. And, for me, what’s most important is obtaining an accurate evaluation or, more precisely when it comes to my health, an effective treatment plan.

Still, just as I expect my mechanic to explain the computer diagnostics on my car, I expect my physician to explain my medical diagnosis — regardless of how it was obtained. While AI promises to significantly augment our lives, I am a social creature whose very being depends on complex human interactions, particularly during times of need. I will continue to want human experts present in my health care. And I don’t think I’m unique.

Patients are not passive actors in medical dramas — we make decisions about our care, integrating what we learn from medical professionals with what we already know and believe. We decide when to seek care, how to care for ourselves, and when to follow medical recommendations. In doing so, we must fully understand our medical situations and be at least equal partners in all decisions about our health and care.

To this end, radiologists and other physicians will continue to be critical to comprehensive patient care, incorporating innately human characteristics into clinical decisions and subsequent actions, well into the AI era. With radiologists working in tandem with computers, we’ll keep our engines running far into the future.

By David Andrews, a patient member of the ACR Patient- and Family-Centered Care Commission and the ACR Appropriateness Criteria Committee