The hype about artificial intelligence will not spell the end of human radiologists, says the incoming Kiwi president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

Dr Lance Lawler is the first New Zealander to lead the College (RANZCR) since 1995 and has started his two year term by addressing the impact of artificial intelligence on the profession.

“There is considerable hype about AI, with stories on how it will spell the end of human radiologists, mainly promoted by the technology makers themselves,” Dr Lawler said. “These stories distract us from the real benefits this technology brings, which are better tools to aid in faster and more accurate diagnoses.”

“Technological innovation has been the history of radiology since the discovery of xrays in 1895 and I believe AI will further improve the ability of radiologists to provide better care. From ultrasound to CT scanning and MRI, PET scanning and the whole digital revolution, radiologists have enthusiastically adopted and improved these breakthroughs to deliver better patient care.

“However, this comes with a caveat. New technology needs all stakeholders to actively work together to both develop and improve it and lay the ground rules for how it can be applied.

Dr Lawler is a former CEO of the Pacific Radiology Group, the largest private medical organisation in New Zealand, with almost 50 branches in New Zealand and Australia. He is currently a consultant radiologist practicing on both sides of the Tasman. The RANZCR is the body in charge of overseeing and improving standards of training and practice in clinical radiology and radiation oncology in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Lawler said he is looking forward to advancing RANZCR’s priorities of policy and advocacy, upholding quality standards and the training of junior specialists.

“Radiologists have a hugely important role in modern healthcare. This requires good relationships with the other medical colleges, policy makers and funders, and I am looking forward to further developing these during my tenure,” he said.

Dr Lawler expects to devote much of his term as President overseeing the implementation of RANZCR’s recently-launched teleradiology standards and lobbying the Australian and New Zealand governments to improve access and affordability of healthcare for patients.

“I also look forward to promoting the work of radiation oncology, a critical component of cancer care. Radiation oncology is a safe and effective treatment for cancer, contributing to 40 per cent of cancer cures,” Dr Lawler said.

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