Speakers urge members to highlight radiology's relevancy and mitigate uncritical imaging.
As part of Tuesday's program, the economic session included a discussion of the threats to radiology, such as reductions in reimbursement and legislation that could drastically impact the practice of radiology, as well as the successes of the ACR's efforts — both small and large.
Session participants issued a collective call to promote the relevancy of radiologists, move beyond the status quo, boost grassroots efforts, and proactively advocate for their profession.
According to Lawrence R. Muroff, MD, FACR, CEO and president of Imaging Consultants Inc., in Tampa, Fla., and the economics session's keynote speaker, there are about a dozen major challenges facing radiologists and their practices. Muroff addressed the following five:
1. Declining reimbursement
2. Washington's love affair with family practitioners
3. More demanding hospitals
4. Nontraditional competition
5. Alternative payment models
Many problems facing the specialty are caused by radiologists themselves. "We have an image problem," Muroff said, as he noted the findings of ACR focus groups conducted in Florida and Vermont. When asked about radiology, most participants in those focus groups had no idea who radiologists were or that they were physicians.
To further combat the five challenges, Muroff recommended that meeting attendees engage in a "culture shift," which would require them to:
• Optimize their governance structure and develop a mission statement and business plan to guide the direction of their practice
• Get practice documents in order, especially employment agreements between the practice and its radiologists
• Create strategic plans and prepare for potential scenarios to confront problems in a proactive manner
• Foster a culture of participation and mutual expectation
• Develop and maintain key relationships within their hospitals and their communities
• Employ a "service-first" mentality to ensure groups meet the needs of referring physicians, patients, and hospital administrators
According to several speakers, to help change how policy-makers and state and local governments perceive radiologists and their profession, radiologists must not only speak up but back up specific claims with research. Evidence-based research is essential for advocacy, stated Richard Duszak Jr., MD, FACR, member of the ACR Commission on Economics. Christopher G. Ullrich, MD, FACR, also a member of the Economics Commission, discussed practical aspects of how government advocacy can determine radiology's future. To provide radiologists with evidence-based research, the commission created the Committee for Imaging Health Policy and Economics Research (CIPER). For more information on CIPER, see "Finding Ways to Demonstrate Value," in the February 2012 Bulletin at http://bit.ly/FebBulletin20.