Keeping Up the Good Fight on CT Colonography

Dr. YEEThis post was contributed by Judy Yee, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee.

The American College of Radiology continues to press for wider private insurer coverage for screening CT Colonography (CTC or Virtual Colonoscopy) even as we work with patient and provider groups to secure Medicare coverage for CTC. Leaders from radiology, gastroenterology and patient advocacy will be holding a Congressional Briefing on Virtual Colonoscopy on September 12 in Washington DC.

Just this week, our efforts with private insurers resulted in another successful outcome.  Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of South Carolina is now among the growing list of private insurance companies that cover CTC to screen for colorectal cancer.

Largely due to ACR-led efforts, 37 states require insurance policies to cover virtual colonoscopy. Insurers that take part in federal exchanges are required by the Affordable Care Act to cover the exam with no patient cost sharing. CIGNA, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and others cover the test irrespective of ACA requirements.

You can help in this effort. I urge you to visit the ACR Colon Cancer Resources page. Use the tools and information there to show your referring providers how CT colonography can help attract their patients of screening age to get tested.

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

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Achieving Gender Parity: It’s On All of Us

reduced turkey neck and 8 bitThis post was contributed by Bruce J. Hillman, MD, outgoing Editor in Chief of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

In my Editorial for the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR), published earlier this month, I examined some hard truths about how many of my male colleagues in radiology and I, often without even thinking about it, have silently acquiesced to decades of gender discrimination and inequality in our field.

There’s no question that we can – and must – do better. But we need to be smart about it. There is so much to be done. We need methods to determine where our efforts are most likely to lead to success – smart methods that lead to broader equality but avoid unfairly citing discrimination when little exists. We need to look beyond simple percentages of men and women in a given sphere to what’s behind those percentages if we are to avoid, and productively chase down, confounding influences that contribute to the gender makeup of our profession, our associations and our councils, boards and leadership teams.

One place where we can begin without much fear of going awry is with our journals. As far as I have been able to discover, the first woman ever to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the journal of a major radiology organization will be my successor, Ruth C. Carlos, MD, when she assumes the helm of JACR on the first day of 2019. She has proven herself an experienced and capable leader, and – even in this comparatively enlightened era – has likely overcome intentional and unintentional bias that may have otherwise prevented her from taking on this leadership role she has most certainly earned.

Ruth is one of many talented women and men whose names have graced the journal’s masthead and contributed in extraordinary ways to its success over the first 15 years of its existence. While it may be tempting, in retrospect, to claim their appointment was strategic, it was truly my desire to assemble the best possible talent to work on behalf of the Journal that has resulted in diversity – not the other way around.

No one – regardless of age, gender, race, or any other socioeconomic factor – can afford to sit on the sidelines while these conversations and activities take place. Fortunately, we can support each other as we all strive to be better educated, teachable and humble enough to acknowledge the expertise of others.

On Monday, August 27 from 8-9pm ET, the ACR Young and Early Career Professionals Section (ACR YPS) and Women in Radiology will co-host a first-of-its-kind book club to discuss How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. Men and women of all levels of training and practice are encouraged to join us as we dive into women in workplace culture with an emphasis on radiology practices, and support the ongoing momentum of the #HeForShe movement in radiology that has been ongoing since ACR 2017. You can also follow the hashtag #RadChicks during the day on Twitter to participate with discussion via social media whether or not you can attend on the 27th.

The ACR Commission for Women and Diversity is also working throughout the year to leverage the expertise of ACR members and staff to embrace and advance equity, access and innovation for the benefit of our patients and our profession. Within this section of acr.org, you will also find a toolkit and other related resources, including a link to the JACR Special Issue on Diversity.

Creating a successful radiology practice is less about focusing on what they should or shouldn’t do, and more about what we do, together.

  • Have you registered for the free ACR YPS Book Club on Aug. 27?
  • How are you advancing diversity in your radiology practice?

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Ensuring that AI Does What We Need It to Do

Am. College of Radiology-AMCLC

This post was contributed by ACR Data Science Institute™ (ACR DSI) Chief Medical Officer Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR.

I recently did an interview with Popular Science on where medical imaging started and where it is going. It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) will serve a role in that future.

I told the reporter that “I am excited about the day where artificial intelligence will see something in an image that we humans cannot see.” Focusing on the ability of AI to do what human eyes cannot, such as predicting which tumors will respond to therapy and which will not or developing algorithms that will help radiologists find diseases before they cause symptoms, will help radiologists provide more and more value to our patients.

As we describe how AI will be valuable in assisting radiologists and other physicians provide better care for our patients, sometimes we have to compete with those, especially in the lay press, who see AI as a tool that has an ultimate goal of replacing physicians including radiologists. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but we still have important education to do as the hyperbole and over-promising that is rampant in the lay press and to some degree this article to ensure the public’s expectations for AI in health care are realistic. However, I do look forward to that day AI will be able to help us “see” the things we cannot – because if the tools to help us can’t help us spot things we could not before, why have them?

To reach that point, we have to make sure AI tools are designed to do what we need them to do. That is what the ACR Data Science Institute™ (ACR DSI) is doing.

The ACR DSI will co-sponsor an August 23–24 workshop on AI in Medical Imaging, along with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and others. The proceedings will be published as a research roadmap for health professionals in academia, industry and government.

The response to the workshop has been so great that in-person attendance capacity was reached within hours of the event’s announcement. However, you can watch both days live on the internet.

Recently, the ACR DSI released its first use cases to industry leaders for comment. Use cases are clinical scenarios in which AI may improve care. These landmark ACR DSI use cases will be universally available this fall.

This is huge. Assisting developers create algorithms that answer relevant clinical questions and improve in radiology and radiation oncology is a major goal of the ACR DSI.

Many seminal steps are being taken that will impact radiology for years, even decades, to come.  The ACR is, and will be, sharing the exciting news with you as we make it happen.

In the meantime, we invite you to:

  • Watch the Aug. 23 and 24 NIH workshop at the links above
  • Check out the ACR DSI’s AI Assistant blog
  • Embrace radiology’s role in ensuring that AI helps us provide better, more efficient care

Together, we are doing great things. Let’s stay in touch.

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