Take Home Messages from ACR 2015

Charting a course after the meeting ends


June 2015

As a resident, my time is spent furiously learning the intricacies of our profession while simultaneously doing my best to practice radiology on a day-to-day basis.

With these demands, it is hard to find time for extracurricular activities, let alone endeavors such as research and patient advocacy. However, my recent experience at the annual ACR meeting showed me that in order to reap the full benefits of my hard work, we must promote the positive image of radiology and take the lead in improving patient outcomes. These ideas are encapsulated in the Imaging 3.0™ initiative. By increasing our visibility to patients, strategically managing our practices , and becoming involved in system governance in our health systems, we as 21st century radiologists can reach our fullest potential.

Historically, radiologists have been the doctors behind the scenes, guiding patient care from a distance and having very little face-to-face interaction with patients or other members of the health care team. ACR 2015 session emphasized that in today’s evolving patient-focused health care system, this approach is quickly becoming antiquated. Quality interpretation demands direct communication, which involves calling the ordering physician and giving evidence-based recommendations to help guide patient care or directly talking to patients about significant findings. Programs such as the Radiology Consultation Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital are evidence of the changing culture of radiology. By going the extra mile, we as radiologists can have a more direct impact on patient care.

In the changing landscape of health care, the drive for quality metrics and evidence-based medicine has changed how imaging is performed and reported. Quality improvement projects have proven invaluable in addressing these hurdles. A great example brought up at the ACR 2015 meeting was that of the “What, When, Where” project at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital , in which a quality improvement initiative was designed to provide a more complete patient history prior to the radiologist’s interpretation of the study. These projects have helped demonstrate how radiology can add value to patient care. It is imperative that we take a lead role in improving the delivery of health care through these endeavors.

While we improve our internal function and make radiology more patient focused and quality driven, we must not forget to reach out past our own specialty and become involved in the greater physician community. Whether this means serving on hospital committees or being active in state medical societies, getting involved shows our interest in medicine as a whole and our willingness to help. A prime example of this comes from my home state of Kansas, where Robert C. Gibbs, MD, a radiologist from Parsons, Kan., recently became president-elect of the Kansas Medical Society after many years of participation. While these enterprises are time consuming and may initially decrease productivity in terms of studies read, the long-term benefits will allow us to have a say in policy that will impact radiology going forward. If we are not at the table, we are on the menu.

My experience at this year’s ACR meeting has left me with a feeling of cautious optimism. While uncertainty abounds about the future of health care in America, I feel confident about the survival and growth of radiology. With a plan in place, the responsibility now rests on us to carry out Imaging 3.0 at our home institutions. While this change will be difficult, we must remember that we have everything to lose and everything to gain. With that in mind, let us begin our journey at the crossroads of radiology.

By Patrick Craig, DO, radiology resident at University of Kansas-Wichita, Midwest representative for the RFS Nominating Committee

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