New Artificial Intelligence Software at Northwestern Will Help Scan Mammograms

Northwestern Medicine will test AI software on 2,000 patients

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Artificial Intelligence could soon help doctors flag problematic breast screenings in just one visit, with new technology being tested at Northwestern University in coming months.

According to Northwestern Medicine, the new AI technology will be tested on a group of approximately 2,000 patients, with the stated goal of finding irregularities and helping with treatment decisions and outcomes.

Google unveiled the technology earlier this week as Northwestern Medicine launched the study.

Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Sarah Friedewald, Chief of Breast Imaging, says the goal is to find problems faster and in fewer visits.

“Their algorithm was able to detect more cancers than the radiologist,” said Dr. Friedewald. “It’s really about reprioritizing the cases so that we see the more concerning cases first.”

During the visit, not only will the radiologist scan the images, but they’ll also be run through software that is built to flag problematic mammograms.

If the software flags an image, an alert is immediately sent to the doctor’s inbox in the form of an email.

Dr. Friedwald says 10% of Northwestern Medicine’s patients have to schedule a follow up for mammograms flagged by the system. These patients could be seen during the same visit if this AI technology is used.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to replace a radiologist,” said Dr. Friedwald. “The common saying in our field is, the radiologist with AI is better than the radiologist without AI.”

For the study, Northwestern Medicine is currently reaching out to patients who have future mammogram appointments already scheduled.

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