5 Social Media Strategies for Shifting the Radiology-AI Conversation

June 19, 2020

Radiologists must engage in social media messaging to regain control of information about AI use in diagnostic imaging.

The time has come for radiologists to take control over the social media conversation centered around artificial intelligence, industry leaders have said, dispelling the perception that the technology will soon overtake the role of the provider.

The advancements and developments around artificial intelligence (AI) in radiology have happened so quickly and in disparate ways that a good deal of erroneous or misleading information has made its way into the overall discussion about the technologies. But, radiologists have the chance to re-cast the industry’s perceptions, said investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in recent Clinical Imaging article.

“Radiologists must rise to the challenge and embrace social media as an opportunity to counter the false narrative of the insignificance of radiologists in patient care and the idea that AI will replace radiologists,” said lead study author Sonia Gupta, M.D., director of ultrasound at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

But, re-capturing the narrative is about more than changing the public’s perception – the impact of misleading information is also being seen among medical students, Gupta and her colleagues wrote.

“A recent survey of Canadian medical students found that medical students are anxious and less likely to choose radiology as their specialty due to concerns that AI will reduce the demand for radiology,” they wrote. “A similar finding was seen among a small sample of medical students in Switzerland.”

Even though these misperceptions already exist, there are things radiologists can do to fundamentally change how others in the healthcare industry, as well as patients, think about the AI tools that are already in play in radiology. The authors outlined five specific social media strategies that could be helpful.

Be active and engaging online. Do not focus only on the radiology community. Reach out to non-radiologist physicians, patients, other healthcare entities, as well as advocacy groups. Actively pursue opportunities, such as Twitter Q&A sessions, to engage with the general public, and use these opportunities to provide accurate information and increase their understanding of how AI augments – but does not replace – the radiologist’s capabilities. 

Reach out to the non-medical media or press. These groups will likely have a much larger reach than the individual provider, making it easier to correct misinformation. Open the door to conversations that can highlight the positive aspects of the radiology industry, they said.

Talk to patients. When the opportunity presents, take the time to talk with patients about what their exams mean and the role that AI has in landing on an accurate diagnosis. Explaining that it is a support tool that does not function independently can allay their fears that a doctor has not even reviewed their images. Walk them through the process can help them understand the integral and engaged role of the radiologist.

Partner with vendors. Despite initial fears within the industry that AI tools would push providers out of patient care, existing research shows that is not the case. Instead, these technologies have proven themselves to be helpful – and to improve upon their designs and capabilities, the authors said, radiologists should consider partnering with AI developers, working toward a common goal.

Assume responsibility for AI. In social media interactions, the authors said, it is important for radiologists to highlight the role the imaging community has played and continues to play in AI development. It is also an opportunity to point out that radiologists work to ensure these tools are used in a responsible and ethical way.

When used correctly and consistently, the authors contend, messaging via social media can have a beneficial impact on the daily practice of radiology.

“In short, radiologists must be proactive to take the reins and regain the public’s perception of the specialty and its future,” wrote Gupta’s team. “The hope is that these new discussions take place on social media to demonstrate the vital importance of radiologists in AI usage, development and ethics.”