Is Radiology Trending Again?

Dr Andrea BirchThis post was contributed by Andrea B. Birch, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University.

After a few years of potential disinterest in radiology among medical students, is our specialty starting to become very desirable again?

One hundred percent of all radiology residency slots were filled on “Match Day.

The ACR Medical Education and Student Outreach program is stoking interest in radiology among medical students, and our hands-on workshops nationwide have caught their attention.

Then I came across this item recently in US News & World Report touting that aspiring doctors should actually choose their medical school based – at least in part – on the strength of its radiology program!

The College continues to advocate for exposing medical students to radiology early in their med-school careers. Under the guidance of the ACR Commission on Women and Diversity, we are reaching out to female and minority students to ensure greater representation in radiology in the future. Recently, I represented the ACR at the Student National Medical Association Annual Conference, where I had the pleasure of engaging with several such students through workshops and conversation. Other ACR representatives also recently attended the Latino Medical Student Association Annual Conference. This outreach is part of our commitment to ensuring that radiology better reflects many of the communities we serve.

I encourage you to promote ACR efforts in your medical school affiliations. I also encourage you to take part in mentoring medical school students about pursuing careers in radiology.

With the job market strengthening and interest in our profession increasing, there is no time like the present to share your experiences and expertise with the next generation.

Are you seeing increased interest in radiology in your department or practice?

Please provide your thoughts the comments section below or on the Engage discussion board (login required).

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A Tool to Meet the Needs of Radiology’s Future

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This post was contributed by Richard L. Morin, PhD, FACR, chair of NRDR.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) National Radiology Data Registry (NRDR®) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. We’re proud to have helped tens of thousands of ACR members and their practices improve care over the past decade—and we’re not letting up.

This is a particularly interesting time in radiology. Significant change is coming over the next decade with respect to how we use quality measures to improve not only patient care and safety, but also reimbursement, accreditation and other aspects of our work.

NRDR is poised to be a go-to tool for radiologists to satisfy the needs of the future. Numerous efforts are underway to optimize NRDR data collection methods, ease reporting and improve interoperability and integration with electronic medical records, radiology information systems and modality vendors.

We are making participation even easier by automating each of the registries, as we’ve previously done for the Dose Index Registry® (DIR). After submitting the participation agreement, DIR participants download a free software tool to automatically receive, anonymize and securely transfer dose index data to the registry. Once set up, virtually no human intervention is necessary.

Any artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm inherently requires data. In coordination with the ACR Data Science InstituteTM, we’ll leverage NRDR data to assist in the development of better AI algorithms that advance and improve decision making.

That’s not to say that practices won’t continue to have an active participation in measurement. Radiology practices routinely analyze NRDR data, comparing themselves to the rest of the database and leveraging findings to refine their practices to make healthcare better, more accessible, more efficient and more affordable. In fact, NRDR is one of the only ways a practice can ensure it is doing things in a way that meets or exceeds the standards.

NRDR registries can also advance teamwork by bringing together not only radiologists and administrators, but the entire medical imaging team – including referring physicians, technologists and physicists. By convening around the data, we can assist in decision making at every level to ensure that we arrive at the proper clinical decisions more quickly, and more cost-effectively, than ever before.

It’s also likely that participation in registries will soon become a necessity, not just a useful tool. As radiology and health care increasingly move from volume-based to value-based care, payment may soon be increasingly tied to metrics. Thanks to the longevity of NRDR, we are poised to be the leader in this area and serve as an ally in helping our members meet the requirements of the future of radiology.

  • How has your radiology practice used NRDR?
  • Have you worked across teams to engage referring physicians, administrators, technologists, physicists and others in the data gathering procedures and the way you analyze the data?

Please provide your thoughts the comments section below or on the Engage discussion board (login required).

Many Battles on Many Fronts

youmansThis post was contributed by David C. Youmans, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR Radiology Advocacy Network.

ACR members are fighting for their patients and practices not only in Washington, but in all 50 states.

In some instances, bad legislation or regulation we counter stems from organized efforts of other groups. Sometimes, those with good intentions receive bad information or don’t consider likely ramifications of their actions. Sometimes, it is a combination of all these factors.

Case in point: Kentucky recently passed a law effectively barring radiologists from reading X-rays involved in state Black Lung Disease cases. Despite the fact that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) sets rigorous standards to read these exams (regardless of medical specialty), and that radiologists have previously done so, the new KY law allows only pulmonologists to become “B-readers” – as those who read these scans are known.

According to media reports, the state representative who introduced the bill, had never heard of NIOSH. Neither he, nor any other state representative spoke with NIOSH, the ACR, nor any other medical society – including the pulmonologists – who, along with ACR, have come out against the law.

Kentucky lawmakers have pledged to address the new law in the next legislative session. The ACR will be sure they do.

But the ACR is working in state houses and state regulatory agencies nationwide – whether it is informing breast density legislation in dozens of states, scope of practice laws in Arizona, or balance billing legislation in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.

The College also counters actions of private insurers that may restrict ready access to care – or hamper our ability to serve patients. This includes our opposition to the Anthem outpatient and emergency imaging policies.

We face many battles on many fronts. We need to support each other in these efforts. And we need more of us to get involved.

I invite you to take part in the Radiology Advocacy Network (RAN). The RAN (‎@ACRRAN) allows us to quickly and efficiently take action on behalf of patients and our practices at the state and federal levels.

Together, we are making a difference. The more of us that get involved – the more good we can do.

  • To be effective, we monitor issues in all 50 states, but our members are some of our most important resources.  What issues are you and your colleagues most concerned about? 

Please provide your thoughts the comments section below or on the Engage discussion board (login required).