This study will evaluate radiation medicine professionals’ perceptions of clinical and professional risks and benefits, and the evolving roles and responsibilities with artificial intelligence (AI).
Radiation oncologists (ROs), medical physicists (MPs), treatment planners (TP-RTTs) and treatment delivery radiation therapists (TD-RTTs) at a cancer centre in preliminary stages of implementing an AI-enabled treatment planning system were invited to participate in uniprofessional focus groups. Semi-structured scripts addressed the perceptions of AI, including thoughts regarding changing roles and competencies. Sessions were audiorecorded, transcribed and coded thematically through consensus-building.
A total of 24 participants (four ROs, five MPs, seven TP-RTTs and eight TD-RTTs) were engaged in four focus groups of 58 minutes average duration (range 54–61 minutes). Emergent themes addressed AI’s impact on quality of care, changing professional tasks and changing competency requirements. Time-consuming repetitive tasks such as delineating targets, generating treatment plans and quality assurance were thought conducive to offloading to AI. Outcomes data and adaptive planning would be incorporated into clinical decision-making. Changing workload would necessitate changing skills, prioritising plan evaluation over generation and increasing interprofessional communication. All groups discussed AI reducing the need for TP-RTTs, though displacement was thought more likely than replacement.
It is important to consider how professionals perceive AI to be proactive in informing change, as gains in quality and efficiency will require new workflows, skills and education.
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