CARS founder emphasizes focus on innovation

June 22, 2005

The future of the Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery meeting lies in a multidisciplinary appeal to the leading-edge thinkers, according to Prof. Heinz J. Lemke, Ph.D., a founder of the organization who remains its driving force. Those luminaries constantly push for the adoption of new solutions to perennial clinical management challenges.

The future of the Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery meeting lies in a multidisciplinary appeal to the leading-edge thinkers, according to Prof. Heinz J. Lemke, Ph.D., a founder of the organization who remains its driving force. Those luminaries constantly push for the adoption of new solutions to perennial clinical management challenges.

Heinz U. Lemke, CARS organizer, says CARS must continue to appeal to technology innovators and early adopters.

Lemke, who holds senior research positions at the Technical University of Berlin and the University of Leipzig, described his vision for the future of CARS as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary. The meeting was founded as CAR, without the surgery, in 1985. Dramatic advances in the development of computing power, digital communications, and storage have occurred during the ensuing two decades.

The market for attendance at medical meetings is competitive, but CARS should continue to thrive if it focuses on the roughly 16% of medical specialists who are at the leading edge of a bell-shaped Gausian curve that reflects the process of innovation. It is these innovators (2.1%) and early adopters (13.6%) who will get the most out of the CARS meeting and could constitute a developing niche for it, Lemke told Diagnostic Imaging.

Lemke described the innovators and early adopters as "leading sigmas," who tend to be dissatisfied with the status quo and more willing to adopt change. Those who fall on the other side of the curve, including late adopters, are generally risk-averse and satisfied with the way things are.

The latter group might, for example, be satisfied with film radiology. HIS and RIS programs, by contrast, are fairly mainstream, and PACS adopters are past the top of the curve, he said. At the very leading edge are those who want to bring digital imaging and PACS to the surgical suite.

The CARS agenda must include an appeal to multiple disciplines that have an imaging element, including cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, gastroenterology, maxillofacial radiology, and minimally invasive therapies, Lemke said.

CARS should initiate an effort to analyze workflow, especially in surgery, and to identify the improvements possible with technologies that are explored at the meeting, he said.

"The impact of CARS comes from innovators and leading users," Lemke said. "We have grown, but not like the RSNA and the European Congress of Radiology, which have more mainstream users."

This year's CARS meeting drew more than 500 abstracts from more than 30 countries. Slightly more than 900 people preregistered for the meeting, according to Lemke.