Aggregating Data, Advancing Radiology

Caroline Chiles, MD, Professor of Radiology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, contributed this post.

The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) has been working on research registries for more than 40 years, building expertise and resources as a preferred partner and center of excellence. Last week, the ACR launched its newest effort, the ACR National Clinical Imaging Research Registry (ANCIRR). The ANCIRR – pronounced ‘answer’ – provides answers to the critical questions we have, and positions us to answer questions that have not yet been formulated.

ANCIRR has the potential to efficiently move medical advances forward through federal agencies, such as the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)-funded Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC), and through technology creators. The need for such coordination when addressing complex scientific questions has perhaps never been greater.

Our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. As radiologists, we are uniquely positioned to aid in this battle by making significant contributions to clinical research. That’s why Wake Forest Baptist Health decided to get involved with one of the registries that make up ANCIRR.

In April 2020, the ACR COVID-19 Imaging Research Registry (CIRR) was created to collect clinical data and imaging performed as part of routine clinical care in diagnosing and treating patients throughout the United States who have tested positive for  COVID-19. In addition, CIRR will collect the same data elements on a control population of patients who have tested negative. Although there are other registries collecting clinical data in COVID-19 patients, the inclusion of imaging makes CIRR unique, fueling more robust and impactful research than clinical data collection alone. CIRR is one of two ways that COVID-19 imaging data is collected by MIDRC, funded by NIBIB.

In some instances, when testing for COVID-19 was limited, chest radiographs and chest CT were used to help identify those who were sick. The pattern of predominantly peripheral ground glass opacity, a pattern associated with organizing pneumonia, on both chest X-ray and CT, went from a fairly uncommon observation to one we were seeing every day, all day. Now we know that COVID-19 can have cardiovascular and neurologic effects as well.

The registry collects all imaging — ranging from conventional chest radiographs to brain MR — from patients of all races and ethnicities, ages, body types and geographic areas, both urban and rural. The registry will also allow researchers to query the dataset for specific types of patients or specific imaging procedures.

Wake Forest Baptist Health is proud to be the first of many sites to contribute case images and anonymized patient health information to fuel the CIRR, which will be key to a better understanding of how we diagnose, treat and ultimately eliminate this disease.

Your involvement with ANCIRR efforts will result in medical advances to further address health crises such as COVID-19 and beyond. So, how can you get started?

Our first step at Wake Forest was to submit the CIRR protocol to our Institutional Review Board (IRB). Although IRB provides permission to conduct the research, permission to share data outside your hospital must be obtained by your legal department. Getting legal approval for this Health Information Portability and Accountability Act-limited data set can be a lengthy process. While you’re waiting for approval, I recommend assembling a team of individuals who have the technical background needed for data collection and transmission. For me, that team includes a neuroradiologist co-PI, a systems analyst for clinical data extraction, and a systems manager in Radiology who facilitates upload of imaging.

Once your approvals are complete and your clinical data and imaging are gathered, ACR provides options for uploading clinical data and imaging to the registry – either the TRIAD platform, or their newer platform, ACR Connect.

At this point, our team at Wake Forest is uploading imaging on all COVID-19 positive patients seen within our network from early 2020 through January 2021. Our next step will be to upload a comparable number of COVID-19 negative patients to serve as a control population, and then move on to cases seen since February 1, 2021.

If you’re interested in joining us and being part of this very important effort – and I don’t think there has ever been a more important effort for us as radiologists – I encourage you to learn more about the CIRR and the other ANCIRR registries, and find out how you can become a data-contributing site.

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We Are All the Patient Experience

Arun Krishnaraj, MD, MPH, Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care, and associate professor of Radiology and Medical Imaging at the University of Virginia, contributed this post.

The patient experience is ever-evolving. From new technologies to healthcare advancements, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, all who are involved in the care continuum have been challenged to adapt at an even quicker pace. During this year’s Patient Experience Week, April 26-30, I encourage departments and practices around the country to take a few moments to celebrate your team’s incredibly important impact on patients and their care.

As radiologists, we play a central role in providing high-quality care for our patients and communities — but we can’t do it alone. With collaboration among our fellow radiologists, referring providers, administrative colleagues, and patients themselves we can continue to empower each other to provide the best care for all.

I’m pleased to share a few additional resources from the ACR Commission on Patient- and Family- Centered Care to help your organizations celebrate Patient Experience Week 2021. These ideas and resources are designed to celebrate your team’s impact on the patient experience, to provide opportunities to maintain and improve well-being, and to re-energize and enhance human connections between healthcare team members — with the common goal of improving the patient experience.

In addition, RadiologyInfo.org is an excellent resource for trusted patient information on medical imaging and care that averages over two million visitors monthly. This website provides easy-to-understand information regarding over 260 procedures, exams and diseases and helps patients better understand what to expect when receiving radiological care.

Thank you for providing outstanding care to your communities around the country.  With the support of your ACR, our innovative profession is poised to be even more critical to the delivery of high-quality patient centered care.

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What the ACR YPS Offers Early-Career Radiology Professionals

Vivek Kalia, MD, American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Young and Early Career Professional Section (YPS) Social Media Liaison, contributed this post.

The ACR proudly supports and empowers radiologists — and future radiologists — at all career stages, from medical school to residency, fellowship and beyond. The ACR YPS is specifically dedicated to representing young and early-career professionals— those under the age of 40, or within the first eight years of practice after residency and fellowship training— within the ACR and its chapters.

The ACR YPS empowers early-career professionals through various initiatives and offerings, all of which are organized and managed by the YPS Executive Committee, a committee under the ACR Commission on Membership and Communications. This eight-member group leads with the shared goal of connecting young radiology professionals and helping those individuals navigate the resources of the ACR.

Since becoming the YPS Social Media Liaison in May 2019, I’ve enjoyed interfacing with the other young radiology leaders of the YPS Executive Committee. The best part of our committee is that we each draw upon a wealth of prior leadership and life experiences which help us bring unique and diverse perspectives to what we do. We are also an incredibly diverse group, culturally and in our practice settings, which adds a richness to our conversations and helps us balance needs of various groups we represent. In my particular role, it has been my great pleasure to serve as one of the faces of the ACR to the world – helping to curate content and educate members and trainees about what we do and events we’re planning.

Looking back, I’m incredibly proud of my Executive Committee colleagues. We’ve made considerable strides in outreach to young professionals who are interested in radiology and/or are early in their career through efforts such as webinars, podcasts and governance within the ACR. Through this incredibly trying year of COVID-19, we’ve maintained our programming and stayed very well connected with each other and with our constituents. I’d like to highlight a few key successes of ours this year.

The YPS webinar series kicked off with a joint session hosted by the YPS, ACR Resident and Fellow Section (RFS) and the American Association for Women in Radiology,  “Job Hunting During an Economic Crisis.” We also hosted a YPS-Radiology Leadership Institute® Webinar: “Practice Leadership During COVID-19” and a YPS-JACR® Webinar: “Pandemic Impact on Private Practice Recruitment: 2020 and Beyond.” In case you missed these, you can watch the free recordings on-demand.

We also partnered with YPS member Cody R. Quirk, MD, on The Hounsfield Unit Podcast. The podcast features bite-sized, meaningful, relevant and honest discussions about topics affecting young radiologists in this country, such as addressing health inequities in our patient populations, wellness, and venture capital groups and radiology.

On the leadership front, ACR councilors Taj Kattapuram, MD; J. Paul Nielsen, MD; and Andy Moriarity, MD; sponsored Resolution 35, adopted by the ACR Council during ACR 2020. This resolution called on the ACR Bylaws Committee to amend the ACR bylaws to allow the RFS and YPS, as sections, to submit resolutions – allowing these sections to play a more active role in the ACR governance process. This was a critical step forward as the unique needs of trainees and early-career radiologists must be represented within the organization. A bylaws amendment to implement the resolution passed in 2020 will be considered by the Council at the upcoming ACR annual meeting.

Additionally, the ACR YPS Executive Committee drafted a resolution related to partnership-track associates of private practices, specifically addressing a recommendation for transparency and shared decision-making during outside-investor purchases of physician practices. This resolution, sponsored by councilors from the YPS and RFS, will be considered by the Council during ACR 2021 as Res. 25.

If you’re reading this blog and would like to join in our efforts, consider running for the 2021–2022 ACR YPS Executive Committee. We’re looking for dedicated, young professional volunteers who are ready to empower fellow YPS members to be involved in state radiology societies, amplify the voice of YPS members and foster leadership development.

  • Learn more about the ACR YPS, and then apply to join the YPS Executive Committee by April 20.

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