Discussion| Volume 64, P319-322, August 2019

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Why physics in medicine?

  • Ehsan Samei
    Corresponding author at: Carl E. Ravin Advanced Imaging Laboratories (RAI Labs), Duke University Medical Center, 2424 Erwin Road, Suite 302, DUMC Box 2731, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
    Department of Radiology, Clinical Imaging Physics Group, and Medical Physics Graduate Program, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
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  • Thomas M. Grist
    Department of Radiology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA
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      Despite its crucial role in the development of new medical imaging technologies, in clinical practice, physics has primarily been involved in technical evaluation of technologies. However, this narrow role is no longer adequate. New trajectories in medicine call for a stronger role for physics in the clinic. The movement towards evidence-based, quantitative, and value-based medicine requires physicists to play a more integral role in delivering innovative precision care through the intentional clinical application of physical sciences. There are three aspects of this clinical role: technology assessment based on metrics as they relate to expected clinical performance, optimized use of technologies for patient-centered clinical outcomes, and retrospective analysis of imaging operations to ensure attainment of expectations in terms of quality and variability. These tasks fuel the drive towards high-quality, consistent practice of medical imaging that is patient-centered, evidence-based, and safe. While this particular article focuses on imaging, this trajectory and paradigm is equally applicable to the multitudes of the applications of physics in medicine.
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