Q&A: Johann Fernando on Fujifilm’s role in ‘the AI revolution’ and what the company has planned for HIMSS 2018

2018 has already been a year full of breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and those technologies are sure to receive a lot of attention March 5-9 at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas.  

Johann Fernando, PhD, COO at FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc., spoke with HealthExec as the company made its final preparations for HIMSS 2018. Fernando shared insight about the company’s role as a leader in AI and the impact these evolving technologies will have on radiologists both now and in the years ahead.  

Read the full conversation below: 

Fujifilm will be showing off its AI initiative to attendees at HIMSS 2018 in Las Vegas. What can you tell me about this initiative? 

Johann Fernando, PhD: As you know, the AI revolution is underway. Fujifilm, with its long history of innovation in medical imaging and healthcare informatics, is at the forefront of AI development. We’re really excited to be working in this field. Our AI development is primarily focused on harnessing the power of AI to enhance our imaging and informatics portfolio, which includes the Synapse PACS, Synapse CV, Synapse VNA and other solutions that we offer.  

Our AI development program is based primarily out of Raleigh, North Carolina, where we have both a research and development facility and the corporate headquarters of our Synapse portfolio. We’re also working closely with our development team based out of Tokyo and partnering with key customers in the U.S. market to draw from their own experiences and expertise as we develop new solutions.  

Population health is always a big topic at HIMSS. What kind of impact can advancements in AI have on improving outcomes? 

AI is capable of processing patient information and patient imaging in ways never before possible with healthcare IT. We are focused on exploring the benefits of applying AI to historical imaging repositories for new untapped population health information. We see AI creating new, more powerful population health analytics, new research possibilities on our aging population, and even creating new patient health information based on their historical and current imaging record. Population health is also improved as AI helps radiologists and other physicians be more accurate, gather information faster and work with data to make high-quality decisions. With these capabilities, clinicians can also manage time more effectively, allowing them to spend more time with patients.  

All of this helps physicians achieve their own population health management goals, and I’m excited to watch AI improve population health as we move forward. 

What do you see happening with AI and machine learning in another 5 to 10 years? What do you think the impact will be on radiologists as these technologies continue to evolve? 

Within the next few years we see the use of AI continuing to grow, with more and more use cases forming, and AI will become more integrated into the software systems physicians use every day. Radiologists will see a significant benefit from AI in both their ability to make faster, more informed and accurate decisions, but also as AI begins to learn from their use patterns and makes their workflow more efficient and personalized.   

These technologies will continue to impact radiologists as they see how AI can help them. Access to data is going to get better, presentation of data will be more meaningful and workflows will be enhanced.  

What else does Fujifilm have planned for HIMSS 2018? 

Besides our central focus on AI at HIMSS, we will also be giving a demo of our VNA and how it can bring data together from women’s health, pediatrics and other parts of the enterprise and give physicians access to both DICOM images and non-DICOM images. 

We’ll also be displaying our Synapse PACS and our Synapse RIS, and we have a “Lunch and Learn” event planned for Wednesday, March 7. That event is free of charge and will feature presentations by Bill Lacy, vice president of the medical informatics business here at FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc., and Esteban Rubens, global principal for enterprise imaging at Pure Storage.