RSNA 2013: Tracking Trends & Building Partnerships

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As 2013 winds down, it’s time to gear up for the 99th Scientific Assembly & Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. As always, Health Imaging will be your guide to the biggest conference in radiology.

RSNA returns to McCormick Place in Chicago on Sunday, Dec. 1, through Friday, Dec. 6, and the schedule will once again be packed. More than 50,000 attendees from around the world will have their choice of approximately 3,000 scientific presentations and posters covering the latest research, trends and practices in radiology.

This year’s theme “The Power of Partnership” underscores how essential coordination will be for the continued success of radiology. Traditionally seen as “the doctor’s doctor,” the role of radiologists is shifting. More and more, they are being asked to step out of the reading room and connect directly with patients, physicians and clinicians. The evolution of informatics technologies is helping imaging specialists partner with clinicians in new and exciting ways. Radiology groups also are actively marketing to their communities the value of radiologists in care decision-making.

Policy and reform issues also loom large, making a case for more concrete partnerships with government, industry and payers. “The biggest story in all of medicine…and radiology is no exception, is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its implementation,” says Ross A. Abrams, MD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. While he says he believes affordable care brings many positive changes—extending affordable healthcare options for those that were uncovered, restricting payers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions—from the perspective of providers, any policy overhaul has important financial implications.

This brave new world of reform is reflected in the session topics at this year’s meeting. More time will be spent on economics and policy. Of course, there also will be plenty of scientific presentations highlighting the leading edge of research. Health Imaging spoke with members of several RSNA planning committees to get their take on the biggest trends at RSNA 2013, and our editorial team is offering our recommendations for can’t-miss sessions. We also check in with RSNA President Sarah S. Donaldson, MD, to talk about the partnerships she says are essential.

Economics, Policy & Practice

Much of the discussion around policy and practice management over the last year has revolved around the continued rollout of accountable care organizations and the fallout from sequestration cuts. These issues have been a few years in coming, but are now beginning to feel more tangible, says Dean Shibata, MD, of the University of Washington, in Seattle, and chair of the RSNA educational exhibits for policy and practice.

“These are things that everyone hears about on the news, but I think many of us in radiology have been trying for the most part to ignore it and hope the effects will be benign and minimal,” he says. “But it’s turning out that we’re seeing decreased reimbursement from Medicare and we’re realizing that some of these concepts like sequestration, may start having a direct impact on our practice.”

As a reflection of this, RSNA 2013 is featuring a section of sessions on economics in addition to the standard scientific and practice management sections. There also will be a growing focus on partnerships with patients and clinical colleagues.

“That’s a theme and part of this whole change [in the economics of radiology]. Radiologists can no longer be isolated from patient care and will need to partner more with the patients we’re providing services and with the clinicians we’re providing services for,” says Shibata.

suggested sessions:

  • The Future of Radiology: What Are the Threats and How to Respond to Them — Sun., Dec. 1, 2:00-3:30 pm
  • Changing Role of Radiology in the U.S. Health Care System — Mon., Dec. 2, 8:30-10:00 am


Two promising technologies of years past—tablet computers and clinical decision support—will again be a major focus at RSNA 2013, but this time as proven tools that have demonstrated their ability to aid the practice of radiology, according to the chair of the informatics committee, David Hirschorn, MD, of Staten Island University Hospital in New York and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Studies have shown that the tablet computer, with the right ambient light and software, can be used as an imaging platform to achieve reasonable diagnostic results, with