ACR Now Offering Reduced Pricing on Meetings and Programs

Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Board of Chancellors, contributed this post.

Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR

Since assuming my role as chair of the Board of Chancellors in May, I am continually inspired by the radiology community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ACR members around the country have displayed a profound sense of unity and strength as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.

The ACR is proud to support our members as we together continue to overcome various pandemic restrictions and financial hardships. In the early days of COVID-19, we created a radiology-specific COIVD-19 resources page on acr.org where members can access the latest clinical materials, well-being tools, leadership resources, economic and regulatory updates, and more.

In recognition of the financial burden facing radiology and multispecialty practices, we’re now pleased to announce newly adjusted registration prices for several of our meetings and online education courses.

We are committed to equipping our members with high-quality, up-to-date resources and strengthening the radiology community as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you’ll join us virtually for our upcoming virtual meetings and take advantage of steep savings on our educational programs and materials.

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Superheroes Save Lives – and So Do Cancer Screenings

Cecelia Brewington, MD, FACR, a professor and board-certified radiologist practicing at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and member of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Colon Cancer Committee, contributed this post.

Like so many of us, I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Chadwick Boseman’s passing as a result of stage IV colon cancer. I was also amazed by his strength as he persevered through his illness to bring us so many remarkable films and the Black superhero, King T’Challa, in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” I was deeply moved by the fact that, during his own treatment, he often visited with young cancer patients.

For me, as a Black physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center who serves on the ACR Colon Cancer Committee, the best way I can personally honor his legacy is by working to prevent losing more young Black men like him to colorectal cancer by encouraging screening. Did you know that Black people have the highest rates of colon cancer of any racial ethnic group in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS)? Black individuals are about 20% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Some have pointed out that Boseman’s death at only 43 makes him even younger than the recommended age at which to begin regular colorectal cancer screening (age 45). That is true, for those at average risk of colorectal cancer. But those with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease – or those who are experiencing symptoms like rectal bleeding – might need to start screening before age 45, be screened more often, or get specific tests. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine which cancer screenings are right for you.

On average 30% of us who should be screened for colorectal cancer don’t get tested – and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, colorectal cancer screening has dropped 86% during the pandemic relative to averages prior to January 20, 2020. If you’re among those who should be screened but have not, I want you to know this is the first step to take that is in your control. See your doctor and get set up for screening!  There are safe, socially distanced options.

Virtual colonoscopy, known medically as CT Colonography, is a highly accurate, safe, and minimally-invasive test that is preferred by many who can’t or won’t get a colonoscopy. It is also recommended by the ACS. Virtual colonoscopy takes about 20 minutes, during which pictures are taken of the inside of the colon using a CT scanner. It does not require being put to sleep, so you can drive yourself to and from the screening and return to your normal daily activities immediately after the test. It can also be performed in a lower risk manner that maintains social distancing in the COVID-19 era. If a pre-cancerous polyp is found, you can have a follow-up colonoscopy to have it removed before it becomes a cancer (it is estimated that only 14 percent need to go on to colonoscopy).

Conventional colonoscopy is another option – which is the only other exam that can reliably detect pre-cancer polyps throughout the entire colon before they turn into cancer. It can also be performed in a low risk manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to be put to sleep for this exam and have a driver, but if a polyp is found it can be removed during that exam.

I urge you to talk to your doctor about what it might look like for you to #ReturntoCare even amidst the current pandemic and get your PREVENTIVE screening! The best test is the test that gets done. As a physician who provides CT Colonography, I can attest to the fact that this option has the power to save many lives – and one of them just might be yours.

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What Radiologists Need to Know about the Medicare AUC Mandate

Gregory N. Nicola, MD, FACR, ACR Chair Commission on Economics, contributed this post.

Dr. Gregory N. Nicola

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that the Educational and Operations Testing Period for the appropriate use criteria (AUC)/clinical decision support (CDS) mandate for all advanced diagnostic imaging services will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021. This decision provides additional time for practices to implement clinical decision support systems, as there are no payment consequences associated with the AUC program during calendar year (CY) 2020 and CY2021. How can your practice prepare?

The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) encourages practices to use this time period to learn, test and prepare for the mandatory start of the AUC program. Thousands of facilities nationwide have already implemented CDS as it has the potential to reduce unwarranted imaging and associated radiation exposure, and make more efficient use of healthcare dollars — a benefit to both providers and patients.

Practices should also know that since the testing period extension was regulated by CMS outside of the rulemaking process, there is no CMS call for comments. However, the ACR will continue to work with CMS and other physician, medical and patient groups regarding CDS implementation, advocating for changing the program to a more streamlined and efficient quality improvement initiative.

By embracing the upcoming AUC/CDS mandate together, we can continue to position radiology as a leader in value-based care. I encourage you to familiarize yourself and your colleagues to take advantage of this extension and become better prepared for, pending no further changes from CMS, implementation in early 2022.

The ACR is committed to keeping members apprised of critical AUC/CDS developments through updates on acr.org and in the Advocacy in Action eNews. You can find additional information regarding the AUC mandate on the CMS website.

  • How is your practice preparing for AUC/CDS?

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