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Radiology Education: Exploring the Potential of Next Gen Technology

Radiology Education: Exploring the Potential of Next Gen Technology

A lot of interesting and new developments in radiology informatics and education are coming up, being driven by the digital interest of the next generation of radiologists-Generation Y and Generation Z.

Radiology education has witnessed a sea change in the last decade. Mobile-based apps, internet sharing, multi-functionality of tablets and handheld laptops, web-based educational tools and learning, virtual and simulated patients based training of radiological procedures and interventions, multi-institutional videoconferencing and teaching rounds, global web-based focused specialty lectures by experts, society run educational talks and conferences run on Zoom/Google platforms and other high-quality networks, and world-wide collaboration of radiological societies and educational resources for a more comprehensive database of cases and teaching materials are some of the ways radiology education has shaped recently.

Virtual Reality is a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person, who becomes part of this virtual world getting immersed within this environment and whilst there, can manipulate objects or perform a series of different types of work. For example, instead of having a classroom setting in a medical school during under-graduation days being taught about history, trainees can be taken virtually back in time and see events unfold in front of them. Augmented Reality (AR) is the result of using technology to superimpose information (sounds, radiological and other images, as well as text) on the world we see. AR further adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on smartphones.

VR and AR are the realities of the future education system. Classroom learning is undergoing change at an unprecedented rate. Technology is making its way to the classroom, increasing the interactive elements that many students are benefitting from. VR allows students using e-learning platforms on mobile devices to directly interact with study material. This keeps engagement levels of the students high and motivates them to learn more and better. VR classrooms give students opportunities to raise their hands, ask questions in an organic way and generally feel more directly invested as against the “pretty off experience” of traditional online courses. On the similar lines, AR facilitates teachers and trainers in performing tasks; they previously could not and in a safe environment.

Radiology departments across the globe have begun exploring the use of these technologies to help with radiology education and clinical care. They have become novel means to communicate and have enormous potential for supplementing radiology training; communicating with colleagues, referring clinicians, and patients. Although VR and AR are still in an evolving stage with only some clinical applications as of now, these technologies have the potential to become a key factor in improving preoperative and intraoperative decision making.

Trainees can be exposed to an interventional radiology (IR) suite to experience various basic IR procedures (eg, tray setup, US-guided liver biopsy) using VR head-mounted displays, while AR head-mounted displays allow DICOM medical images to be displayed in 3D format in a conference room and allow individuals (trainees, colleagues, patients) to interact and communicate with the floating object. Various other VR and AR equipment are being used for providing and creating content from DICOM images for interpretation, education, and communication, and interacting with 3D DICOM images as well as 3D IR equipment.

Time has come to further explore the emerging role of technology-driven radiology education and advanced training, which shall soon be the new norm in the coming decade.

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