From Practice to Policy
How the RAN influences legislation affecting radiology, and how you can get involved.
The Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN) launched in 2012 to educate radiologists about important issues and guide their participation in legislative advocacy.
In this issue, Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, who helped establish the RAN, and David C. Youmans, MD, FACR, president of the New Jersey Rdiological Society and the RAN’s incoming director, discuss the monumental impact the RAN has had on radiology legislation and how practicing radiologists can join in that effort.
Why is it important for radiologists to get involved in the RAN?
Fleishon: The ACR is widely recognized throughout the industry and by Congress for being credible and highly effective in representing the interests of patients and radiologists. Most organizations in radiology look to the ACR’s government relations team to carry out the profession’s advocacy mission. The RAN is a vital part of that effort. Congressional representatives want to hear from their constituents. When legislation is pending in Congress that affects radiology and a call to action is circulated by the ACR, the RAN is activated to encourage members and other stakeholders to contact their representatives.
Youmans: We entered medicine to take excellent care of patients in their time of need. As part of that mission, it is imperative that we track, analyze, and guide legislation that affects patients and physicians in general and radiologists and radiation oncologists in particular. Successful advocacy relies on planning and participation. The ACR and state chapters leverage their experience and connections to direct the specialty’s efforts, but not much can happen without participation from individual radiologists and radiation oncologists.
What are some of the successes of the RAN?
Youmans: Some recent achievements include gaining coverage for CT lung cancer screening and CT colonography screening, as well as retaining coverage for women’s annual mammography screenings. With the support of our membership, we also helped reduce the multiple procedure payment reduction from 25 percent to 5 percent.
What is the RAN currently working on?
Fleishon: The RAN was founded to focus on improving the response rate to calls to action. Along the way, its mission has expanded to develop other tools to enhance the advocacy effort. We released an app to provide information to radiologists going to Capitol Hill during annual meetings (watch for it again at ACR 2017). We also send out a quarterly email update covering state and national advocacy efforts to members of each state’s RAN network.
Youmans: The Radiology Advocacy app provides an easy platform for physicians to receive and respond quickly and easily to calls to action. It provides a legislative directory allowing for easy identification of legislators and their contact information based on state, address or geographic location, making it easier than ever for us to contact them about important issues. App users can also find talking points related to specific legislative issues that are important to radiology, which are very useful when speaking with legislators or simply for getting up to speed quickly on important issues. And for the increasing number of annual ACR meeting attendees, the RAN app provides up-to-date information on events and schedules. Overall, the app is a big step forward for us.
We are also developing a social media presence (including a Facebook page that radiologists will be able to check for important issues) and are launching a digital forum that will allow for active exchange of information and ideas relating to advocacy at both state and national levels.
How can radiologists get involved in the RAN?
Fleishon: Become a RAN representative in your state. Volunteer to be a contact person for your practice. Encourage your state chapter and practice to have advocacy as a standing meeting agenda item. Have your practices host facility visits or fundraisers for local candidates. The easiest and least time-consuming way to get involved is to join the RAN and reply to calls to action.
Youmans: Take a moment and download our app or like our new Facebook page. Respond to calls to action when they come your way, and encourage your colleagues to become engaged.
Fellow radiologists work tirelessly to support legislative goals, but successful efforts require support. When you get more comfortable with the RAN and its processes, which you will, take the knowledge you have gained and become an advocate yourself. If you need help or guidance, we’re here to help you succeed.