January 08, 2016

The Voice of Radiology Was Louder than Ever in 2015

The American College of Radiology (ACR) earned important legislative and regulatory victories in 2015. The battles to help gain these advances occurred not only on Capitol Hill, or in state houses nationwide, but in the news media and on social media. A robust, integrated ACR public affairs effort informs the public, educates influencers and equips members to represent radiology in their communities. In these respects, 2015 was the most productive media relations and social media year in ACR history.

ACR spokespersons, messaging or information about College products and services appeared in nearly 3,000 print and online news reports nationwide — including every major U.S. newspaper, major magazines and primary online news outlets. The cumulative average monthly visitors and total circulation for these news outlets totaled nearly 10 billion readers.1 ACR also appeared in more than 700 radio and TV news broadcasts — including major market and national news outlets reaching millions more.

The number of ACR Facebook followers and engaged users (who repost or like content) each increased more than 30 percent in 2015. ACR Facebook posts earned 128 million impressions (potential number of people who read the content).2 The ACR Twitter page, honored in 2014’s CQ Roll Call “100 Association Twitter Handles You Should Follow,” increased its followers significantly in 2015, reaching millions more readers. This content was often retweeted by patients and other stakeholders on several high-profile issues. From September through November, ACR’s social media accounts carried 14 million impressions. This shows that members, patients and influencers joined social conversations on the College’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts to comment, share and keep up-to-date on specialty news, events and services. Several high-profile awareness campaigns drove this increased activity, which also prompted an increase of more than 30,000 views on The Voice of Radiology blog.

William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, ACR chief executive officer, says this extended reach is the fruit of ACR’s hard-earned reputation — even outside of our field — as THE voice of radiology to media, regulators and lawmakers. This has been aided by working collaboratively with other societies and patient groups, which is increasingly important as new health care delivery systems, cancer screening and other hot issues are debated in the media and among lawmakers.

“Our communications and government relations teams work together to coordinate with patient groups, other medical societies and allied stakeholders to educate the media and the public, as well as lawmakers, about why what we advocate is good for patients and vital to quality health care,” said Thorwarth.

Mammography Saves Lives®

In April 2015, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released draft breast cancer screening recommendations that mirrored its 2009 guidance against routine annual breast cancer screening in women ages 40–49. These recommendations will be finalized in the near future. In October 2015, the American Cancer Society released guidelines that did not strongly recommend screening for women ages 40–44 and cautioned that older women could transition to biennial screening.

The ACR countered these developments by working with the Society of Breast Imaging to place spokespersons in nearly 1,200 online and print news reports — including every major U.S. newspaper and online news outlet. We informed women and their providers that annual mammography beginning at age 40 saves more lives than delayed (until age 50) or less frequent (biennial vs yearly) screening. The combined average monthly visitors and total circulation for these news outlets totaled 3 billion readers. College spokespersons were also highlighted in several national radio broadcasts — including NPR and ABC Radio.

These media efforts supported College advocacy that spearheaded inclusion of Protecting Access to Lifesaving Screenings Act (PALS Act) language in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act. This extended mandatory mammography insurance coverage for millions of women nationwide for two more years while breast cancer experts and lawmakers vet the USPSTF recommendations and the process by which they were created.

Radiation Safety

In 2015, ACR experts were quoted in 800 print and online articles that addressed radiation from imaging scans as (at least) part of their coverage. The average monthly visitors and total circulation for these news outlets totaled more than 5 billion readers.3 ACR leaders also met with Consumer Reports editorial staff and medical advisers to discuss medical radiation risk portrayed in a prominent CR article. The College also secured publication of many letters to the editor of leading American newspapers on this and other issues.

CT Lung Cancer Screening

The ACR placed lung cancer screening messaging and spokespersons in 290 online and print news outlets — with a combined average monthly visitors and total circulation of 225 million. These placements included the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Bloomberg News, About.com and Medpage Today. College messaging included the life-saving capability of such screening and ACR lung cancer resources for patients and providers.

CT Colonography

Supporting introduction of CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act (S. 2262) seeking Medicare coverage for CTC, and CTC use in general, ACR spokespersons appeared in scores of online and print news reports — including Congressional Quarterly, all radiology trade press, and prominent oncology and gastrointestinal news outlets. These articles were seen by more than 12 million readers. The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA), ACR and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) co-sponsored an informational CTC webinar, now available for viewing here. Members of the ACR Colon Cancer committee also took part in a radio media tour explaining the benefits of CTC, how to prepare for the exam and the need for Medicare coverage of these exams to up to 4 million radio listeners across the United States. This effort continues in 2016.


The College looks to build on past success and take on new challenges for members and those they serve in the year ahead. Together, ACR members and staff can continue to strengthen the “Voice of Radiology” and help shape the future of medicine.

 References:

  1. This is known as “media impressions” – as one reader could have read more than one of the resulting articles.
  2. This refers to the primary (official) ACR Facebook page. The College also has Facebook pages for the Radiology Leadership Institute, JACR, and other ACR entities or products and services.
  3. Many articles on various issues often touch on medical radiation as part of their coverage.