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Earlier in July, radiologists, clinicians, scientists, and industry representatives from around the world descended upon Vienna, Austria for the first onsite European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in over three years. A new development for ECR was also the change regarding the time of year, with ECR 2022 held in the summer, allowing congress-goers to enjoy the spectacular summer weather in Vienna, which recently reclaimed its throne held in 2018 and 2019 as the most liveable city in the world.

ECR 2022 offered myriad lectures, activities, and experiences, one of which was a highlight for many attendees: The AIX Theatre. Deep in the belly of the Austria Center Vienna, this area was home for five days to numerous companies and startups, interactive experiences, the Cube, and the AIX Theatre, where congress attendees were able to visit sessions such as “AI Workflow Integration“, “AI beyond Radiology Image Analysis“, and “Data sharing with Industry for AI: practical, scientific, legal and ethical issues“.

Entering the artificial intelligence exhibition space, one was transported into a labyrinth, zig-zagging between a wide array of start-ups and well-established companies offering the latest groundbreaking technology in the healthcare world. As AI becomes more relevant and intertwined with radiology and healthcare as a whole, spaces dedicated to the topic of artificial intelligence will only grow in importance.

First-hand experiences at the AI exhibition

When entering the AI exhibition, one immediately took notice of the number of people exploring and interacting within the area. “In my personal opinion, the AI exhibition was one of the best-visited areas during ECR 2022,” said Prof.Dr. Elmar Kotter of the Universitätsklinikium Freiburg. “AI in radiology is one of the fastest evolving technologies in medical imaging and we see AI applications emerging into radiologists’ daily life. This explains why AI lectures were crowded during ECR 2022 and there was a strong interest in the AI exhibition.” Kotter continued, “A highlight and magnet of the AI exhibition was the Artificial Intelligence Theatre, with many presentations, lectures, and panel discussions drawing active participation at the auditorium.”

Dr. Merel Huisman, a radiologist from the Netherlands with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), participated as a panellist in the AIX Theatre session “How to train Radiologists and related professionals in AI?” Regarding her AIX experience at ECR 2022, Huisman stated, “It was great to hear the different points of view from diverse countries and disciplines. This strengthens our understanding of the gaps in AI education at large. The possibility to have a live interaction with the audience is something we have missed in the online era.”

Looking to the future

The AI exhibition offered opportunities and learning experiences across all radiological disciplines. “We all come from different backgrounds, but you’re usually more interested in the area you’re familiar with,” said Maria from Colombia. “For the neurological discipline, there are a lot of interesting things related to, for example, dementia. I am more interested in cardiology, which also has some exciting developments.” Gesturing to the individual next to her, Maria continued, “My colleague here is just starting out in artificial intelligence in the area of education and how you can improve learning for radiology trainees. I think there’s a nice mixture of everything.”

Another attendee at the AI exhibition, Mohamed, was excited about the possibilities of artificial intelligence that were on display at ECR 2022. “It’s been absolutely brilliant. We spoke to some of the companies and we’ve been made aware of things that we never thought would be possible,” he said. “I think it’s a fantastic way to support how we deliver care to patients to improve patient safety and the delivery of healthcare.” Mohamed was optimistic about the future of AI in radiology, but “only as long as it doesn’t get rid of radiologists completely,” he joked.

We can only imagine the anticipation for future AI exhibition experiences will continue to grow among past and future ECR attendees. “I expect to see even more of the AI exhibition in the coming years,” stated Kotter. A hopeful look into the future, indeed.

For those of you looking to expand your knowledge and dive into the fascinating world of artificial intelligence in healthcare and radiology, all AIX Theatre sessions can be viewed by clicking here.

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