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By John Wallace

The annual RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting is a grand event each and every year. The 105th meeting held December 1-6, 2019 at the McCormick Place in Chicago was no different.

It is impossible to see and do everything that is offered. However, thanks to exhibit tours and exclusive interviews the Imaging Community Exchange (ICE) magazine is able to share some of the exciting news from RSNA.

Siemens Healthineers introduced two artificial intelligence-based software assistants in the established AI-Rad Companion family that are designed to free radiologists from routine activities during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations. The AI-Rad Companion Brain MR for Morphometry Analysis automatically segments the brain in MRI images, measures brain volume and marks volume deviations in result tables used by neurologists for diagnosis and treatment. The AI-Rad Companion Prostate MR for Biopsy Support automatically segments the prostate on MRI images and enables radiologists to mark lesions, facilitating targeted prostate biopsies. (AI-Rad Companion Brain MR for Morphometry Analysis and Al-Rad Companion Prostate MR for Biopsy Support are 510(k) pending with the FDA and not yet commercially available in all countries.)

“With the new AI-based assistants, we are expanding our diagnostic offering to help our customers increase efficiency and improve the quality of care,” said Peter Koerte, head of digital health at Siemens Healthineers. “We firmly believe that AI will help physicians deal with their workload and benefit patients by helping physicians achieve an improved, patient-focused decision-making process. We demonstrated this at last year’s RSNA when we introduced the first application of the AI-Rad Companion focusing on CT for the chest region. At RSNA 2019, we present additional AI-Rad Companion applications for MRI examinations in the brain and prostate regions. Further applications for radiography and radio oncology will follow.”

During a tour of the Siemens Healthiness space, Global Marketing Manager Artificial Intelligence Ivo Driesser discussed how three new products promote “decision making with the right information.”

He said the AI-Rad Companion provides “information for radiologists at their fingertips” and “guiding eyes of doctor to area of interest.”

“With our data, we support clinicians to make decisions,” Driesser added.

Both new AI-Rad Companion software assistants can be used on MRI scanners from outside manufacturers and are available on teamplay, the Siemens Healthineers cloud-based platform that helps support compliance with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The software is seamlessly integrated into the existing clinical workflow and is DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) compliant. The clinical images and all supporting information can be made available automatically in the picture archiving and communication system (PACS). (teamplay is not yet commercially available in all countries.)

Siemens Healthineers Global Director Product Marketing Management Florian Belohavek discussed exciting CT offerings.

The FDA-cleared SOMATOM X.cite is a premium single-source computed tomography (CT) scanner with the new myExam Companion intelligent user interface concept. The intuitive user interface of the myExam Companion guides the user through the exam workflow with precise questions about the patient, potentially enabling optimization of the state-of-the-art features of a premium CT scanner such as the SOMATOM X.cite. The myExam Companion combines available patient data such as gender and age with other user or machine-observable, patient-specific information – for example, a patient’s electrocardiogram (ECG) waveform for a cardiac study – to identify optimal acquisition and reconstruction techniques for each patient. Together, these innovations make the imaging process more efficient, compensating for differences in user experience levels and scan complexities on even the most complicated acquisitions, including coronary CT angiography (CTA) studies.

The first CT scanner launching with the myExam Companion intelligent user interface concept, the SOMATOM X.cite uses the Vectron X-ray tube. In combination with a large 82cm gantry bore, the SOMATOM X.cite offers advanced imaging capabilities with an even greater focus on patient comfort.

Belohavek pointed out a clinical decision tree that “guides clinicians to help get the best result for every patient.”

“The myExam Companion enables technologists to utilize the full potential of not only the SOMATOM X.cite, but also the scanners of the SOMATOM go. CT platform. Siemens Healthineers analyzed nearly 200,000 scan protocols using artificial intelligence and tapped clinical experts to identify key questions regarding the framework conditions for an optimized scan result. On this basis, Siemens Healthineers designed scan strategies and clinical decision trees to aid in proper setup and scanner operation. At its core, the myExam Companion renders complicated clinical decision-making into these 20-plus, user-definable clinical decision trees that are displayed at the human-machine interface, either at the operator console or using the scanner’s mobile, detachable tablets. These clinical decision tree workflows are sharable across the institution,” according to a press release.

The SOMATOM.go systems with my Exam Companion are pending 510(k) clearance, and are not yet commercially available in the United States.

Another system pending FDA approval is the SOMATOM On.site, a mobile head computed tomography (CT) scanner that changes the standard practice of transporting a critically ill patient from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the radiology department for a CT scan. With the SOMATOM On.site, the radiologic technologist can perform a CT head examination directly at the patient’s bedside, potentially eliminating costly patient transports with high staffing requirements and potential risk to the patient. In this way, the SOMATOM On.site transforms care delivery and improves the patient and staff experience.

“The SOMATOM On.site is a fundamentally new approach for CT head scans of intensive care patients,” says Philipp Fischer, head of computed tomography, Siemens Healthineers.

Siemens Healthineers also announced the U.S. commercial availability of CrewPlace, a cloud-based platform that allows health care facilities to address staffing shortages while managing their own workforce of radiologic technologists via a digital portal. Designed to digitalize health care and optimize clinical operations, CrewPlace can potentially enable revenue growth by providing access to labor resources outside of the organization’s network. The platform can further optimize population health management initiatives like cardiovascular screening programs, and increase access to care via new care delivery models and clinical pathways.

With CrewPlace, customers have immediate visibility to the available technologist workforce across their entire health care organization, as well as the expanded labor pool that is available outside of that organization. With this level of workforce visibility, the customer can match the technologist’s day and time work preferences with the customer’s staffing needs, resulting in scheduling that is desirable for both parties. CrewPlace also enables the customer to dispatch technologists to a location within the organization where a particular procedure is being performed, matching skills to requirements. Additionally, CrewPlace provides real-time data regarding labor force utilization that is not provided through conventional Excel spreadsheets and Outlook Calendar management tools.

In addition to being available for individual purchase, the CrewPlace platform is provided free of charge to customers purchasing new Advanced Therapies fixed systems (including the new ARTIS icono angiography system but excluding multi-purpose systems) as well as existing installed systems covered by a Siemens Healthineers service contract with Advanced Case Support. These customers can use CrewPlace to schedule onsite procedural case support with a Siemens Healthineers applications specialist for increased equipment support during new or difficult procedures.

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