Planning for the Future in Chicago
The Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America presents a multitude of opportunities for radiologists to learn, network, and plan for the future each year in Chicago.
Scientific presentations, refresher courses, focus sessions, and plenary sessions abound in an environment that also displays the technological cutting edge for the future of our specialty. Within this vast networking milieu there is a little-known process that involves ACR leadership for five days and results in an array of future plans for the College and for our specialty.
The ACR president, Board of Chancellors chair and vice chair, and the College CEO conduct a series of meetings with leaders of national and international radiology organizations. This year, the ACR leadership conducted 22 such meetings in addition to presenting a refresher course, participating in a RADPAC fundraiser, and leading Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) through the exhibits to enlighten him on the important contributions radiologists make to the nation's health and the importance of congressional support for appropriate funding and reimbursement.
It's important that our members be aware of what their leaders are doing, so I would like to share with you the highlights of our meetings in Chicago. On the international front, the International Society of Radiology increasingly looks to the ACR for major contributions. We will be involved in providing attributed open source international access to some of our educational products. We will lead a task force to identify and coordinate radiological aid to developing nations, ensuring efficient and nonduplicative allocation of resources. We will take a primary role in evaluating and recommending improvements to an International Atomic Energy Agency proposal for staffing models in medical imaging. In Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, there is a high level of interest in participating in the ACR Dose Index Registry™, and we are working closely with our international counterparts to make that participation a reality.
Our relationship with the American Roentgen Ray Society continues to develop new and interesting pathways, with each organization secure in its independence but both continually searching for areas of mutually beneficial collaboration. We have agreed to take a coordinated approach to Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs) and Physician Quality Improvement (PQI) templates, drawing on the focused strengths of each society to provide its unique expert content for the benefit of all radiologists.
Discussions with American Board of Radiology (ABR) leaders covered a wide range of topics but focused on two important areas. As Maintenance of Certification (MOC) becomes a more widespread requirement, the ABR is developing and encouraging processes that allow participation at the group and institutional level. Since PQI is a necessary component of MOC and, since there are financial implications to PQI in the Medicare system, the ACR and ABR will be working closely to ensure that this system is optimized for our members, particularly in regard to creating a monitoring program of reimbursement performance for PQI by Medicare Administrative Contractors. Also of concern to both organizations is a recent California law that requires radiologists to include a dose measurement in all CT reports. This law creates an unfunded reporting mandate and may well be copied by other states. The ACR will draft model legislative language that minimizes the burden to its members.
Of critical importance to the success of interventional radiology and the ability to keep this subspecialty within the house of radiology is recognition and support of a practice model of longitudinal patient care. Our meeting with the leaders of the Society of Interventional Radiology generated a mutual commitment to raise awareness of the need for a longitudinal patient care model through educational sessions at ACR meetings, publications in JACR, and submission of a policy resolution to the ACR Council.
The process of radiology resident training is undergoing significant changes and creating challenges for the Association of Program Directors in Radiology (APDR). Two important issues we discussed with APDR leaders were resident education in professionalism and leadership. The ABR Foundation, in collaboration with ACR and other organizations, has created several educational modules on professionalism, and our discussion with APDR centered on integration of those modules into the residency curriculum and documentation of completion. Likewise, the new ACR Radiology Leadership Institute will have a program specifically designed for residents, which APDR leaders indicate will fit well in the 4th year of the new curriculum.
Perhaps our most exciting meeting was an internal ACR strategy meeting to discuss deployment of a decision-support system developed by the ACR information technology team for use in the 2012 Medicare Demonstration Project on Appropriate Utilization. This system has been expanded well beyond the limited scope of the Medicare project and is ready to be embedded in existing order entry systems. Our goal is to create a model whereby radiologists can take control of utilization management and share in the savings generated in that process.
The sparkling lights on Michigan Avenue are a fitting backdrop for the process of planning a brighter future for radiology.
By John A. Patti, M.D., FACR, Chair, Board of Chancellors