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Reimagining the Future of Radiology

On the 8th of November each year, the global medical community celebrates World Radiography Day, which marks the anniversary of Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-radiation in 1895. The importance of radiology in patient care, however, is ubiquitous and not limited to just one day. Over the last 120 years, the profession of radiology that grew around the use of the X-ray has enabled us to have an increasingly insightful view into disease manifestation in the body and helped guide treatment options. I believe that embedding the radiologist into the patient care team, as we will do at Sidra Medical and Research Center, will revolutionize our approach to treatment and improve patient outcomes.

At Sidra, our mission is to set new standards in healthcare for women and children, and our world-class radiology program will help us achieve this. What makes Sidra’s radiology department unique is its integration within each of Sidra’s three main pillars of patient care, education and research. The interdependence between the patient care teams, research conducted at Sidra and a continuous focus on learning will contribute to our goal of delivering the highest standard of patient care.

In practical terms, this means that Sidra will look beyond the traditional department-based radiology model to one where radiologists work directly within clinical care teams. The traditional radiology model dictates that the referring physician requests an imaging test, which the radiologist independently interprets and feeds back on without ever meeting the physician or the patient. In contrast, our model will allow radiologists to actively participate in the clinical delivery of healthcare in what can be referred to as point-of-care radiology. Our radiologists will consult as part of patient care teams at the bedside, for example providing real-time imaging analysis during surgery from a connected imaging suite. Among other benefits, this approach facilitates a learning environment where radiologists help physicians learn about their patients, patients can learn about their disease and visualize its impact and radiologists observe how their analysis translates into clinical practice.

From integrated teams to integrated technology, our radiology department has been designed in line with Sidra’s focus on advanced data analytics, feeding all patient-related information into a single electronic medical record. For example, we have already built in certain functions into our technology interface to allow image analysis to be automatically combined with existing patient information, helping make connections between disease expression, injury or an individual’s genetic makeup that may not otherwise be made.

Looking to the future, our Radiology Department will actively support non-invasive therapies such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), a technique that uses focused high-intensity ultrasound waves and magnetic resonance imaging to treat masses with pinpoint accuracy. In my opinion, HIFU is going to revolutionize the therapeutics arena by raising the bar for non-invasive treatments and removing many of the risks associated with surgery. We are looking at novel ways to use the HIFU and are currently in the process of building a significant research program around this.

Access to the best equipment, teams and a chance to build an innovative Radiology Department at Sidra is a privilege and responsibility not afforded to most healthcare professionals. New developments are constantly emerging in the field of radiology, and here at Sidra we have the capacity to implement these into a hospital that will change the way patient care is provided. As we stand at the forefront of advances in radiology, we are embarking upon a journey that will shape the future of the discipline in Qatar and beyond.”

The above opinion piece appeared in Gulf Times on November 12, 2014

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