The ACR Forum

An RFS Perspective

ACRForum

January 2015

Every year, the ACR organizes a diverse group of radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, and others involved in the practice of radiological care to discuss important issues affecting the daily practice of members.

Participants include leaders of the College, experts from multiple domains, thought-leaders from across the health care industry, and many others. As representatives of the ACR RFS, we were privileged to attend the 2014 Forum and participate in this important discussion. We were able to provide input from the member-in-training perspective, and we saw firsthand how the College focuses on all members when planning for the future.

Before discussing the 2014 program, we should take the opportunity to thank our College leaders and all the other invited participants for including RFS and Young Physician Section (YPS) representation at the forum. As ACR members at the very beginning of our careers, we were impressed to see how the organization is simultaneously focused on protecting our professional practice while planning for inevitable changes in years to come. Many of the issues being discussed today will have a profound impact on our professional practices throughout our careers. We left the forum with a new understanding of the possible futures for the profession and the conviction that we, as the newest members of the specialty, have a voice in shaping the vision for that future.

The 2014 topic, "The Impact of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) on Radiology: It's Not Just Reimbursement," has both immediate and long-range importance to our field. This topic proved to be extremely timely and just as controversial as the reimbursement component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has received significantly more focus from physicians and national media. The impact of the ACA extends beyond reimbursement and has the potential to influence every future patient interaction of our members. The ACR Forum co-chairs, Jeffrey C. Weinreb, MD, FACR, and Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, structured the three-day program to ensure adequate time for participants to fully engage the topic.
John E. McDonough, DrPH, MPA, professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health, delivered the opening keynote address. McDonough has extensive experience with state health care reform in Massachusetts with the ACA, having served as a senior advisor on national health reform to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. His address began with an overview of the ACA and the far-reaching effects of the legislation beyond payment reform, followed by a spirited discussion during which we learned much about how the specific language of the bill was created.

We were reminded just how much lawmakers rely on input from experts when drafting legislation, through both formal consulting interactions and more informal relationships, which are often formed months or years earlier. Hearing this, we recall the annual Capitol Hill visit during the ACR Annual Meeting, when members of the College meet with their congressional representatives to discuss important issues. Even as members-in-training, we have actively participated in such sessions as imaging experts or simply as doctors educating our lawmakers regarding the value of our professional services. It is not difficult to imagine that these meetings, or similar opportunities back in our home districts, could lead to a supporting vote or crucial piece of legislation sometime in the future.

Discussions throughout the meeting reminded us that our daily practice is more than images on a screen or lines in a medical chart. Our profession is central to the delivery and advancement of quality health care and will become even more essential during the changes brought on by health care reform. While there are clearly no easy answers to many of the complex questions facing health care delivery in the U.S., participants at the ACR Forum provided their unique perspectives on the challenges that lie ahead.

The message provided by the RFS representatives was clear: members-in-training understand that significant changes are occurring in the way medicine is practiced. We will need to adapt and build upon lessons learned in medical school and residency sooner rather than later to succeed. However, we embrace the challenges ahead, understanding that it will not be enough to merely provide care differently in the future. Members-in-training should strive to be leaders in the development and provision of more effective and cost-efficient care to individual patients and our entire society.

We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in this annual strategic activity. With the guidance of the College and the broad skills of individual radiologists, the next generation of radiologists will be prepared to participate in health care reform and position radiology to add increased value within the health care delivery system.


By Andrew Moriarity,MD, and Jonathan Flug, MD, MBA

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