Do Radiologists Have an Image Problem?

RawsonHeadshotThis post was contributed by American College of Radiology Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care Chair James Rawson, MD, FACR.

A recent KevinMD Blog post stated that radiologists have an image problem. The post highlights a small study presented at ACR 2017 by doctors from a practice that found that less than half their patients knew radiologists are doctors. The practice made educational materials available in their waiting room and found this helped more of their patients know that they were physicians.

Years ago, ACR did a test measurement and education campaign in select areas called “The Face of Radiology.” Many Americans did not know that radiologists are doctors. Radio commercials, print advertisements and waiting room education materials increased the number of people who knew what radiologists are and do.

We found that the root of the problem then was that patients rarely interacted with diagnostic radiologists However, the most obvious finding was that we can’t “advertise our way” to better patient knowledge of who we are and what we do.

Sustained patient acceptance that you are one of their doctors has to be reinforced by patient experience.

We have to be creative and willing to enhance our patient-engagement skills and offer more patient- and family-centered care. Maybe you just make yourself available for patients? Maybe there is another option that would work better in your practice? I invite you to look at what can be done.

The Imaging 3.0 initiative, along with Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care resources, can help you improve the patient experience.  I encourage you to use these resources, along with the new Radiologist’s Toolkit for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, to become more visible to patients and referring physicians.

Another great resource is the JACR special issue on Patient- and Family- Centered Care.

The more we engage with patients and providers, the more input we will have on shaping the future of medicine.

How have you enhanced your patient-engagement skills to offer more patient-centered care?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

Lung Cancer Screening: Small Victories and Saved Lives

Ella KazerooniThis post contributed by Ella Kazerooni, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Lung Cancer Screening Committee.

As you read in this week’s Advocacy in Action e-news, Medicare announced that it will pay for low-dose CT lung cancer screening exams performed for eligible patients in independent diagnostic testing facilities (IDTFs).

You may also have seen that more than 45 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the Secretary of the Department Health and Human Services and HHS Administrator warning against any cuts to Medicare lung cancer screening reimbursement.

With the speed at which LCS was approved for Medicare coverage, many of the coverage details are still being figured out as we go. These small victories are intermingled with the struggle for fair payment, building infrastructure and educating referring providers about which patients benefit most from these exams and why.

There is still much left to do to fulfill lung cancer screening’s promise to save more lives than any cancer screening test in history.

The ACR is working with others to make sure that the work gets done. We are working to reduce false positives, educate lawmakers and regulators, and promote use of Lung-RADS® and the Lung Cancer Screening Registry. All of these are necessary to support the ongoing launch of screening programs nationwide.

We are also working to make sure you have the tools to perform these exams in the safest, most effective manner possible.

Please visit the Lung Cancer Screening Resources section on the ACR site for resources to help you inform referring physicians and patients about lung cancer screening and improve the screening you may already be providing.

I would like to know:

  • Would additional cuts in reimbursement for LDCTs keep your practice from starting a lung cancer screening program?
  • Would additional cuts in reimbursement for LDCTs in the outpatient setting cause your hospital to no longer offer this service?
  • How is your practice saving lives by implementing a lung cancer screening program? Have you learned anything that you think may help others get theirs off the ground?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

Reports of Radiology’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Bluth_EdwardThis post was contributed by Edward I. Bluth, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR®) Commission on Human Resources.

Mark Twain once noted that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.  With the ebb and flow of reimbursement cuts and newly covered exams (and newly covered patients), along with reports of pigeons reading mammograms and artificial intelligence (AI) going to read everything else, you would be forgiven for thinking we were a dying breed. But, that has been greatly exaggerated.

A recent report from a large physician recruitment firm showed that, for the first time in a decade, (diagnostic) radiology was among the top 10 most requested specialties for recruiting assignments (for both on site and teleradiology)

As I stated in my recent report to the ACR Council at ACR 2017, we expect an increase of more than 14 percent in the number of jobs available for radiologists seeking opportunities in 2017.  More than 2000 diagnostic radiologists are projected to be needed to fill 2017 job openings.

Another report has the global interventional radiology market expanding by nearly a third by 2022. Radiation oncology is also expected to be in demand moving forward.

To be sure, radiology, like other specialties, has to evolve with changing health care delivery and payment systems, changing technology, practice consolidation and other factors.

However, the American College of Radiology (ACR) is working on multiple fronts to help you and our specialty move through these changing times on as solid footing as possible.

This includes a fleet of materials to help you:

  • Get your next job
  • Gain clinical and leadership/business skills to make you more marketable
  • Expand your practice
  • Understand the economic and technological forces that impact the field

These resources include (but are not limited to) the:

I would encourage you to take advantage of these ACR resources. I would also be interested to know:

  • Which skills do you think radiologists need to enhance or develop to make themselves more marketable?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).