Advocacy is an important part of any business or profession, including radiology. So much of what we do is influenced by decisions made by Congress and state legislators. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of advocacy. The political process gives everyone an opportunity to advocate for their interests. When advocacy activity is geared toward specific legislation or a particular legislator, rules regulating lobbying become important.
In radiology, there are several organizations that maintain lobbying activity. Since lobbying does not directly generate revenue, smaller organizations are limited in their ability to support lobbying activities. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and its government relations department are widely recognized by other societies, industry and Congress as one of the most effective and influential groups in advocating for the interests of our members.
The late Harvey Neiman developed the College’s current government relations department based on his commitment to creating the premier lobbying group for radiologists. A behind-the-scenes look into how our government relations team worked with RADPAC, policymakers and our members to influence the passage of the SGR patch bill, recently appeared in the ACR Bulletin. It is definitely worth a read.
Our lobbyists are supported by several programs. RADPAC is our political action committee which helps us contribute to the campaigns of legislators who recognize the value of radiology and the expertise of the ACR. RADPAC now consistently ranks in the upper five for medical specialties. However, PACs for other interests are much more successful such as the trial lawyers.
When our lobbying team needs your grassroots support to contact your legislators about pending legislation, we send out “Calls to Action” via email. The Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN) is a team of state-based physician advocates dedicated to optimizing the response to calls to action. We now have physician volunteers in 45 states. The Resident and Fellow Section does a great job of mobilizing its resident advocates. The RAN has improved the rate of response from less than 5 percent to consistently more than 14 percent.
We all have a role in advocating for radiology and our patients. To learn more how you can help, see my article in this month’s Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR®).
Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR