Radiologists as Agents of Change

Frank Lexa_ACR_358_webThis post was contributed by Frank J. Lexa, MD, MBA, Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI) chief medical officer and chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Leadership and Practice Development.

Radiologists need to step out of the dark room and become agents of change in their facilities and the health care system.

This might sound novel, but as care becomes more collaborative, and our efforts touch an increasing number of providers and patients, we have little choice but to embrace this role. If we don’t shape the future of (and improve) our relationships, our practices, our departments and our profession, someone else will. And we may not like the results.

Don’t let this concept overwhelm you. I’ve outlined a possible plan in this interview. Do take a critical look at how you and your facility operate. If you have an idea to improve processes, interactions and/or policies, consider speaking up. Start small and attainable — and work forward from there.

Being an effective change leader requires following a five-phase plan: purpose, thinking, learning, engagement and feedback.¹


Have a clear, specific, quantifiable aim. Determine what you need. Make SMART (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals.


Think proactively. Identify who can help you and what are the reasons behind a challenge. Pull together a team to help, including those from other affected specialties or departments. Determine how to quantify results and how to implement the project.


Once a plan is implemented, pay close attention to early results. They can make a quick and significant impact (good or bad). You may need to quickly revise your approach.


Confine ideas to what is reasonably achievable. Assemble a group. Assign roles and tasks. Collaborate.


Once you complete the project, it’s time to analyze. What worked? What didn’t? Who was of most help? Who wasn’t? How could your solutions be improved?

Again, start small — possibly with a demonstration project on one service line at one site at a time. Perfect the process (or at least iron out the kinks) before enlarging the scope. Be ready to adjust your plan. If you are interested in taking on a leadership role in your practice or department — and need assistance in this area — I invite you to explore the resources offered by the Radiology Leadership Institute (RLI).

Let me know if you or your practice has taken these types of steps in the below comment section. How were you a change agent? Did your plan work out? What would you do differently?

1- This method comes from: Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp “Getting It Done, How to lead when you’re not in charge” HarperCollins, 1998.

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