A Jolly Good Fellow
The College's collective voice is a powerful and influential tool.
By the time this column reaches you, I will have recently joined the ranks of ACR's Fellows. ACR Fellowship recognizes members who "demonstrate a history of service to the College, organized radiology, teaching, or research."
I feel very humble to receive this honor, especially because when I think of my relationship with the ACR, I feel as though I have benefited to a much greater extent than I have contributed.
The efforts of thousands of dedicated volunteers as well as those of the ACR's exceptional staff mean that the collective voice of the ACR is so much greater than that of any individual radiologist. When I hear criticism of the ACR's efforts and results, I try to remind my colleagues that the power and credibility of the ACR when it speaks on issues related to imaging are unique. In the areas of economics and government relations, which are where my personal volunteer efforts have been focused, the ACR has truly been the voice of radiology. The College's brand would not be nearly as strong, however, without the ACR's obvious leadership role in quality and safety and education.
Given all the challenges we have faced as a specialty in recent years, it can be tempting to abandon the notion that a professional organization can effect change with policymakers and payers. On the contrary, it is only by mustering the strongest of responses, over and over again, that we have managed to stave off or delay additional cuts. The nature of the required responses — from sending letters based on review of thousands of pages of federal regulations to fielding a team to develop numerous recommendations and present codes at the Current Procedural Terminology and Relative Value Update Committee meetings — necessitates significant resources. The coding and nomenclature team reviews thousands of potential edits every year; every line in the minutes of every MedPAC meeting is combed through and every private payer policy change is scrutinized. While ACR's excellent staff keeps us all organized, our continued ability to respond and fight for radiologists to have a voice depends on the support of member volunteers.
Together we are undoubtedly stronger, and I encourage you to be a part of the ACR’s efforts to preserve and strengthen our specialty.
This is the time of year when we solicit volunteer applications, and I urge any of you who are willing to serve to submit your name. If you are interested in economics, we will definitely find a place for you. It can take a long time to get comfortable with the routines and conventions of payment policy, so serving on a committee that is involved in these areas can be a great learning experience. I started volunteering in 2002, when my chair, E. Stephen Amis Jr., MD, FACR, was chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors and urged me to get involved. When I started, I barely knew what a relative value unit was, let alone how to develop valuation recommendations or make sense of the byzantine nature of the practice expense calculation. With great mentors like Amis as well as William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, James P. Borgstede, MD, FACR, John A. Patti, MD, FACR, and Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, as well as so many others on the College's economics team, I feel as if I have gained an invaluable education that I am now using to give back to the College and its membership. It has, despite all the frustration of dealing with irrational payment policy and cascading cuts in reimbursement, been a great experience so far.
The chairs of our various committees under the ACR Economics Commission umbrella have a clear directive to engage and mentor their committee members, especially the young physicians. These are our future leaders and a vital part of our efforts. At the resident level, one of the really fun things I get to do as economics chair is to moderate the Resident and Fellow Section's online journal club every other month. I learn so much from the enthusiasm and fresh perspective that this group brings to our discussions and look forward to working with them as they transition to practice and, I hope, become volunteers.
I spent a very interesting day on Capitol Hill in February as part of the Stand Up for Radiology campaign, meeting lawmakers in an effort to encourage their support for the re-introduced bill to block the multiple procedure payment reduction: HR 846 (Senate bill 623). I saw firsthand that the ACR is the go-to organization for policy-makers and legislators who want to understand imaging. Many of you will have undoubtedly had the same experience if you participated in the Capitol Hill Day visits at the AMCLC.
This is a time of great stress, when we are challenging ourselves to put our shoulders to the wheel and move our specialty towards a new, more prominent role in patient care, using the Imaging 3.0™ toolkit (see the brochure in this issue). Together we are undoubtedly stronger, and I encourage you to be a part of the ACR's efforts to preserve and strengthen our specialty.
By Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, Chair