Shaping the Future
The 2013 ACR annual meeting focuses on reclaiming radiology's central role in health care.
Talk of transitioning to new payment models, calls for radiologists to reclaim their central role in health care, and efforts to increase member engagement were all hot topics during the 90th AMCLC, held at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, outgoing ACR council speaker, formally convened the council on Sunday, May 5, 2013, 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. Fleishon's opening speech touched on a concept that would become a major theme of the conference — the future of radiology. "Medicine is rapidly changing," he acknowledged. "And with that change comes opportunity. Remember when all the specialties would come to the radiology department to review images and decide patient management? We can recapture that role."
Following Fleishon's remarks, Harvey L. Neiman, MD, FACR, in his role as ACR CEO, reported on the state of the College. He praised the recently completed renovation of the ACR headquarters building in Reston, Va. The new work environment meets standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and makes optimal use of space within the original building structure.
Neiman next highlighted the advocacy efforts of the ACR Government Relations staff on behalf of the ACR membership. One of his top priorities as CEO, he noted, is to ensure that the College's advocacy endeavors are "second to none" in the field of medicine. In pursuit of this goal, Neiman announced the College's recent selection of Forbes-Tate, a highlight regarded public policy consulting firm in Washington, D.C. The firm will help the ACR remain aggressive as it confronts the issues facing radiology.
Such College programs as the Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI) and the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology (AIRP) were also commended for remarkable progress throughout the past year. Speaking about the RLI, Neiman noted, "The summer launch event at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management sold out at 150 attendees." As of May 2013, the RLI campaign had reached 57 percent of its goal to raise $5 million for phase 1 of RLI development. In addition, Neiman noted that the AIRP has grown in attendance. In fact, 880 attendees have already taken courses at the institute this year.
Further expounding on last year's successes, Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, BOC chair, took to the podium to deliver his annual report. He began by outlining major College initiatives launched in 2012, including the RLI, the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute (HPI), and the Commission for Women and General Diversity.
While echoing Neiman's sentiments regarding the RLI, Ellenbogen noted novel partnerships with Harvard Business Publishing for high-quality and relevant business content and deepening collegiality with radiology partners, like RBMA, that reflect the collaborative way radiology is practiced. The HPI has also been a valuable asset to the College, as it provides data to demonstrate radiology's cost-effectiveness to the health-care industry. In addition, the ACR Commission for Women and General Diversity was established to support and encourage the leadership efforts of women and minorities within radiology.
Ellenbogen concluded by pinpointing opportunities for improvement. The ACR has an active membership of 36,000 physicians; however, that number represents approximately 70 percent of all radiologists, radiation oncologists, and medical physicists. Additionally, just 12 percent of the ACR Association (ACRA®) membership contributes to RADPAC®. To advocate effectively for radiology, Ellenbogen remarked that at least 20 percent of the ACRA membership should contribute to RADPAC. (ACRA is the association authorized to sponsor RADPAC.)
A Realistic View of the Future of Radiology
Later in the council session, John A. Patti, MD, FACR, ACR president, gave an impassioned ACR Presidential Address about the future of radiology. Patti noted that radiologists have long celebrated and danced to the music of unparalleled technological advancement and financial success. "But what we will do when the party is over?" he asked, explaining that if radiology is to regain its central role in the health-care enterprise, radiologists must be willing to engage in serious introspection, re-examine who they are and why they do what they do, recognized the need for change, understand the psychology of change, and embrace effective methods to implement that change.
He outlined specific methods for engaging in those processes, based on well-respected and time-tested models of thought and behavior change. Central to his theme was a concept that requires radiologists to think, behave, and communicate from the central core of why they do what they do rather than simply communicating what they do and how they do it. His vision for radiology's future is for radiologists to position themselves and their patients at the center of the health-care enterprise through enhancement of their roles in support of research, provision of personalized patient care, creation of new business models, and development of appropriate health-care policy.
Radiologists will need to enthusiastically embrace the necessary transformation "so the proof of our value is as easily recognized as the sunrise," Patti said. If they can do so, he concluded, it could user in a new golden age for radiology.