JACR feature: Rads need to get off the sidelines
Patient-centered radiology is doable; it requires radiologists to broaden their focus and consider patients, politics and more, according to Anil Chauhan, MD, resident in the department of diagnostic radiology at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Chauhan and M. Jordan Ray, MD, of the department of diagnostic radiology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, authored a column outlining the case for political and economic action in the May issue of the Journal of American College of Radiology.  

The authors completed the J.T. Rutherford Fellowship at the American College of Radiology’s (ACR) governmental relations office. The one-week program is designed to provide radiology residents direct personal exposure to ACR’s government relations activities.

Such programs are essential, according to Chauhan and Ray. “If we fail to bond together as the younger generation of this professional society that stands up for our interests and the interests of our patients, the long-term ramifications will be devastating.”

During the fellowship, the authors worked on possible blockage of the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed 50 percent reduction to the multiple procedure payment reduction and met with legislators, leaders in governmental relations for other medical organizations and imaging vendors.

Such “real-world” training can be provided in a short time and help shape the future generation of radiology stakeholders. Chauhan and Ray recommended increased funding for such fellowships and additional support for residents’ attendance at radiology business and leadership conferences. They also suggested incorporating business and leadership topics into day-to-day discussions in reading rooms to further build awareness and knowledge.

Chauhan provided multiple additional strategies for re-shaping radiology in an interview. “We need to focus our approach to be more patient-centered, so we can perform the best exam for the patient.”

This shift requires a mix of technology and communication. EHRs can provide a gold mine of patient information, and decision support software offers a means to communicate with providers about optimal imaging strategies. These systems will continue to improve, said Chauhan.

Another strategy focuses on patient communication. Chauhan recommends radiologists take time in their schedule, as feasible, to make themselves available to describe procedures to patients and answer their questions. This effort supports the ACR’s Face of Radiology campaign and helps to increase awareness about radiologists and their role in the healthcare process.  

“Remaining on the sidelines equates to allowing nonradiologists to encroach into our world of expertise and to perform substandard image acquisition and interpretation,” wrote Chauhan and Ray. In contrast, multifaceted and proactive engagement can elevate the specialty and improve service to patients.