The Way Forward
The 2014 ACR Annuaul Meeting hones in on the skills and knowledge radiologists need to thrive in the changing world of health care.
Radiologists from throughout the country and spanning the spectrum of subspecialties gathered in Washington, D.C. to chart a course for radiology in the changing seas of health care.
Kimberly E. Applegate, MD, FACR, ACR Council speaker, formally convened the council on Monday, April 28, 2014, extending a warm welcome to councilors, alternate councilors, the Board of Chancellors, the Council Steering Committee, chapter officers, ACR members, members-in-training, and other guests.
Applegate’s opening speech acknowledged the challenges facing radiology today. However, throughout the conference, she directed members’ attention back to the driving force behind all of the College’s efforts. “We all share a common goal,” she said, “to improve our practices and the care of our patients.”
A Breakthrough Year
Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, began his report by tracing the career and contributions of outgoing CEO Harvey L. Neiman, MD, FACR. “He is one of the most outstanding and well-known radiologists in the world,” said Ellenbogen.
Ellenbogen then welcomed William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, the College’s new CEO. “Thorwarth comes from a background of outstanding contributions to radiology,” said Ellenbogen. In addition to a successful career in Hickory, N.C., Thorwarth has served the College in a variety of roles, including president, chair of the ACR Commission on Economics, and chair of the AMA CPT® Editorial Panel. Visit http://bit.ly/ACRThorwarth to read more about Thorwarth.
Ellenbogen then outlined some of the major achievements of the past year:
• The JACR® commemorated its 10-year anniversary.
• The Imaging 3.0™ campaign gained widespread support throughout the specialty.
• The first Global Summit on Radiological Quality and Safety was held.
• Lung cancer screening won the support of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
• The 5th edition of BI-RADS® was released.
• Congress enacted the sustainable growth-rate patch with provisions for imaging clinical-decision support.
Reminding audience members that they were attending the last AMCLC, Ellenbogen went on to discuss ACR 2015, a meeting for all members. “Everything you know from AMCLC will be available at the new meeting,” he said, “but we’ll be adding a considerable amount of content.” This content will come from Imaging 3.0, the Radiology Leadership Institute®, the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology, the ACR Education Center, and others. Read more about ACR 2015 at http://bit.ly/BulletinACR2015.
In closing, Ellenbogen touched on the seismic shifts taking place within the specialty but insisted radiologists should not despair. Radiologists remain central to patient care, he pointed out, with imaging playing an integral role in the work of physicians throughout the health care continuum. “I am a perpetual optimist,” said Ellenbogen. “I am one who believes the glass is half full, not half empty.”
A Busy, Vibrant Society
“The College has truly been a very busy place,” began Thorwarth, during his first report as CEO. Thorwarth went on to highlight the efforts of the College’s economics and government relations staff to protect radiologists’ reimbursements. He pointed to recent successes, including legislation modified to include the following provisions: averting the anticipated 24 percent sustainable growth rate reimbursement reduction for all physicians, stipulating the use of appropriate use criteria developed by national medical societies, calling for CMS to justify the professional component multiple procedure payment reduction, and limiting the maximum CMS payment reduction for any service in a given year.
Thorwarth closed with a call to action. “Each of you will be faced with questions from partners or other fellow radiologists, like ‘What is the ACR doing for me?’ and ‘Why should I continue to pay dues?’” he said. “My response is simple: Any radiologist, radiation oncologist, or medical physicist who can honestly say they believe they are not $20-per-week better off as a result of the ACR’s efforts on their behalf should not be a member.”
A Different Type of Thinking
Two topics dominated the presidential address by Albert L. Blumberg, MD, FACR: communication and collaboration. Blumberg pointed out that the topics were championed by past ACR presidents Murray L. Janower, MD, FACR, and Ron G. Evens, MD, FACR, respectively. Blumberg provided attendees with a status report on each subject, tracing areas of progress and aspects still in need of improvement.
In his 1996 address, Janower challenged radiologists to talk to six patients each day. Much like the current Imaging 3.0 initiative, Janower hoped to inspire radiologists to help patients and other stakeholders understand the critical role radiologists play in health care.
“I believe we can succeed in controlling our future if we reexamine what Dr. Janower advised regarding communicating who we are and what we provide to our patients, our colleagues, our regulators, and our payers,” said Blumberg. “Communication and visibility are key ingredients to our future success. It is who we know in addition to what we know that will make the difference.”
Taking another look back, Blumberg called attention to Evens’ 1999 address, in which Evens called for radiology societies to put together “a single strategic plan coordinating operations and funding.” An excess of disparate organizations can lead to fragmentation and duplicated efforts, consuming finite financial, volunteer, and staff resources, he explained. “We should be leveraging our activities and programs with each other’s organizational strengths,” Blumberg said.
“Perhaps it is time for a different way of thinking,” said Blumberg. “We would be well served if, in addition to asking what is best for our individual organizations, we also ask what is best for our specialty.”