Time to Get on Board

Dr. SilvaThis post was submitted by Ezequiel “Zeke” Silva III, MD.

This year, the ACR already secured Medicare coverage for lung cancer screening and helped repeal the flawed Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment formula (with no imaging cuts to offset SGR repeal cost).

Now, the College has spearheaded inclusion of a massive rollback of the Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction (MPPR) to Medicare reimbursement for interpretation of advanced imaging scans performed on the same patient, in the same session, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This bill was passed by the House today (Dec. 18) and is expected to pass the Senate in the next 48 hours.

ACR-backed Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act) primary language is also included in the bill. This would delay implementation of draft USPSTF breast cancer screening recommendations for two years. The delay would give the College and allied organizations time to address the Task Force’s guideline development process and the narrow science the USPSTF reviews to continue guaranteed mammography coverage for millions of women nationwide.

This year’s victories expose the truth that complaints about “what does the ACR do for me and my patients” now ring hollower than ever. Radiologists need to embrace that health care is changing; that ACR is our voice to help shape that change; and that the College is stronger on our behalf when more of us become ACR members.

If we are going to have a meaningful seat at the table as health care evolves, we all need to join ACR, get involved and take advantage of College resources to make our voices heard to our lawmakers, policymakers and health system administrators.

The College, ACR members and staff have worked very hard for a number of years to produce what has been a tremendous success for radiology on Capitol Hill and in state houses nationwide. 2016 can be even better, but we all must join and work together to make that happen.

I urge you to invite your colleagues to become ACR members and direct them to the ACR website where they can Join Today. Why not join the growing number of private practice groups and academic departments that have set policy that ACR dues are provided for all radiologists? The College is your voice!

I also invite you to use the comments section below to share how you let colleagues know why they should be ACR members. Why do you value ACR membership?

Patient Contact: One Way Forward

RawsonHeadshotThis post was submitted by James V. Rawson, MD, FACR.

As chair of the ACR Commission on Patient and Family-Centered Care, I know radiologists don’t always have the opportunity to interact directly with patients. However, such conversations empower patients to make informed health care choices. This is a key part of a positive patient experience increasingly tied to reimbursement. It is also good medical and business practice to establish and strengthen relationships with those you serve.

In addition to direct patient contact; and involving patients in facility equipment purchases, practice layout and workflow planning; many of us are using social media to reach those outside of “traditional” radiology circles. In January 2015, I had the opportunity to do a TEDx Talk on Virtual Communities and Social Media and described just how much you can expand the people you interact with. I also have more than 3,000 Twitter followers (@Jim_Rawson_MD‬‬‬‬‪), but social media is not about how many followers you have. Social media is about interacting with others. ‬‬‬

One way I, and other radiologists, gain and share information with those outside radiology via social media, is to take part in “tweet chats” organized by the Health Care Leaders group under the hashtag #HCLDR. This is a vibrant online community of people who share a passion for improving health care. The chats are held every Tuesday at 8:30 pm ET. Participants include patients, doctors, nurses, CEOs, IT folks, caregivers, policy makers and students from around the world. Chat topics include health care leadership, health safety, health care ethics and health care motivation.

The latest #HCLDR chat that I took part in drew more than 100 participants; generated 1,200 tweets; and created more than 5 million impressions in one hour (number of people who potentially read these tweets). Here is a transcript of that chat.

Social media use is just one of a number of ways that you can increase your communication with those you serve, their caregivers, and with others in the health care arena to gain insight on how you might improve the care you provide and your patient’s satisfaction with that care.

I invite you to read a Q&A I did with the ACR Bulletin that more fully explains the need for patient- and family-centered radiology. I also invite you to check out the Patient- and Family-Centered Care Resources section on ACR.org for more information on steps you might take to provide more patient- and family-centered care and ease your transition to new value-based health care payment and delivery models.

And, if you feel like sharing, I would ask that provide in the comments section below any steps that your practice has taken to provide more patient- and family–centered care. This kind of idea exchange helps all of us.

The Mammography Wars: Tip of the Spear

DEBRA MONTICCIOLO MD FACRThis post is contributed by Debra Monticciolo, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Commission.

This has been an eventful fall/winter for breast imaging. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) continue to stand up for patients in the face of repeated calls for breast cancer screening to start later in life and to be performed less often than ACR/SBI guidelines call for.

The American Cancer Society touched off a firestorm in October by recommending that women 45–54 get annual mammograms and that those 55 and older transition to biennial screening. The ACR and SBI responded strongly and scientifically opposing delayed and less frequent screening that would result in thousands of unnecessary breast cancer deaths each year. The joint response was covered in more than 320 print and online news outlets — including every major newspaper and online news outlet in America. The average monthly visitor and circulation figures for these news outlets totaled more than a billion readers. Our response to the ACS guidelines was also covered by National Public Radio (NPR) and scores of local TV news stations nationwide.

As part of our ongoing effort to preserve patient access to mammography, the College posted (and continues to post) regular messaging and resources to ACR Facebook and Twitter pages and the MammographySavesLives.org Facebook and Twitter pages. The ACR offers an infographic to put the “harms” of breast cancer screening in proper perspective.

We also offer a brochure for members to display in their waiting rooms/lobbies and a pamphlet to send to referring providers explaining why starting annual screening at age 40 is so vital. Another brochure (in English and Spanish) explains how breast density affects mammography accuracy and women’s risk for getting breast cancer.

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, ACR’s social media activity jumped. For example, ACR Facebook posts reached 66.3 million followers; Mammography Saves Lives Facebook items reached nearly 1.1 million individuals.

I know that many of us either have had meetings with colleagues, hospital administrators and patients to explain radiology’s stance that screening start at age 40. I invite you to check out the Breast Imaging Resources page on the ACR website and use the information there to help with discussions with providers and patients alike.

Please share points that have resonated with your practice and hospital administrators in the comments section below.

1 – ACS offered only a “qualified” recommendation for annual screening in women 40-44 and those 55 and over.
2 – The College does not sell these brochures, but feel free to download the file(s) and print as many as you like. The ACR does not give permission for the file itself to be changed in any way.