Meet the ACR Leadership: James A. Brink, MD, FACR
acr rfs brink april

This is an installment of a series titled “Meet the ACR Leadership.” Throughout the series, we interview the ACR Leadership to get insight into their background and involvement in the ACR. For this installment, we talk with James A. Brink MD, FACR.

How did you get involved in the ACR and What Has Kept You Involved?

I became involved with the ACR shortly after completing my fellowship training. My new mentors at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Bruce L. McClennan, MD, FACR, and Ronald G. Evens, MD, were heavily involved with the ACR at a time when I was entering practice in the early 90’s. Both inspired me to get involved with ACR activities, and my first duties involved membership on the Interventional Radiology Committee of the Human Resource Commission under Claire E. Bender, MD, FACR. I have remained involved with the ACR since that time owing to a desire to help shape the future of our specialty through the many college programs designed to advance the practice of radiology.

You are the chair of the Board of Chancellors. How do you view your role and what are your priorities during your chairmanship?  

As chairman of the Board of Chancellors, my priorities are focused on strategy, advocacy/economics, quality and safety, diversity, and preparing for the impact of big data and data science. Having executed a strategic plan in 2014 and launched a program assessment methodology in 2015, I felt it was appropriate and important for us to assess our brand positioning in 2016. The Board of Chancellors and Council Steering Committee recently performed a brand positioning exercise at the Fall and Winter Board retreats.

Our ACR Marketing Department is distilling the results of those exercises and will produce a revised brand positioning analysis to help inform future marketing and communication activities, going forward. These exercises have highlighted the importance of keeping the patient in the center of our focus to avoid misperceptions that our college is not primarily about what is best for the patient.

Another important strategic focus of my chairmanship has had to do with the ACR Foundation. At a retreat last summer, BOC members developed a renewed focus for the Foundation and health policy research, including but not limited to, the Neiman Health Policy Institute®. This positions the Foundation as a unique and distinct entity from other radiology funds and foundations, including the RSNA Research and Education Fund and the American Roentgen Ray Society Roentgen Fund. The Neiman Health Policy Institute is an extremely valuable asset to the College because it conducts research that directly influences health policy. Most recently, the CMS MACRA final rule adopted the Neiman Health Policy Institute’s recommendation of a numeric threshold for patient encounters to be designated “patient-facing” for MIPS participation. This was based on research that showed a natural breakpoint at 100 patients for this threshold rather than 25 as was proposed originally.

Another important strategic activity for us to pursue involves anticipating future scenarios and planning for them effectively. The Board of Chancellors and Council Steering Committee recently conducted exercises looking at the impact of industry consolidation on our specialty as well as the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the practice of radiology. Both exercises help inform future decisions that the College must make regarding these important drivers.

What has been your favorite activity/project in the ACR?

I very much enjoyed serving as Chair of RADPAC from November, 2014 through November, 2016. By helping to support the advocacy of our college, serving as the RADPAC chair enabled me to see the inner workings of Capitol Hill in a way that I had not seen previously. Under the direction of Cindy Moran, Ted Burns leads RADPAC with an expert hand that makes volunteer leadership seamless.

How do you view radiology changing in the next 10 to 20 years?

I see two big drivers affecting our specialty over the next several years. The MACRA Legislation directly affects how physicians will be paid for the foreseeable future. The tremendous emphasis on quality and value will transform how medical care is delivered, and radiology will be no exception. The rapid expansion of artificial intelligence and machine learning will affect how radiology is practiced as well. It will be critical for radiologists to leverage these tools to improve the precision and efficiency of their practice rather than being consumed by these technologies.

What is Your Advice for Residents and Fellows Interested in Pursuing Leadership in the ACR?

The Resident and Fellow Section of the ACR is a terrific forum for radiologists in training to network with their peers and become acquainted with the numerous activities of the college. Moreover, early experiences with leadership and advocacy / economics can lead to much greater involvement by leveraging life-long skills learned during these formative years. I also encourage radiologists in training to get involved with their state chapters as their potential for making a difference locally is tremendous and their input and talent will be most valued.

By Daniel Ortiz, MD, RFS Secretary

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