May 12, 2023

Radiology's Moonshot Calls for Creative Leadership

At a time when radiology, like many other professions, is struggling with a lack of people, time and resources, outgoing American College of Radiology® (ACR®) President Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, delivered a message of hope during ACR 2023. Dr. Fleishon expressed that the specialty will not only survive the challenges but will thrive through innovation, adaptability and creative leadership.

Innovation to address problems is a form of creative leadership, Dr. Fleishon noted, and that has always been a sweet spot for radiology. Today, solutions point toward artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to handle the burden of not enough radiologists reading an increasing number of images for decreasing reimbursement. The promise of technology continues to grow, with hundreds of uses already approved by the FDA. Through technology, telemedicine has remained increasingly popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fleishon emphasized that through this atmosphere of change, the radiology profession needs to keep its focus on the fundamental values of patient-centric care. “It certainly feels like the Wild West out there sometimes,” he expressed. “As radiologists, we must be the vanguards of patient protections.”

Ethics is becoming a hot topic internationally among multiple medical societies and is sure to be part of a long conversation. International experts are coming together to write end-user recommendations for practicing radiologists. “Working with our vendors, we can break down proprietary silos so that any machine learning implementation includes interoperability,” Dr. Fleishon said.

“We all know change is difficult,” Dr. Fleishon said. “Moving away from a comfortable stance toward an uncertain future without a concrete, well-defined learning platform is an audacious goal. Thinking beyond our current workflows, making the necessary investments in our practices for future technology, the entire radiology community coming together, committing ourselves to leadership, research and technology — that is perhaps our radiology moonshot.”

Dr. Fleishon showed a photo of NASA astronauts planting the American flag on the moon July 20, 1969. “We may not plant the flag of radiology on the moon, but we can redefine our practices and our profession, and reassert our role as the doctor’s doctor and a physician for our patients,” Dr. Fleishon told the audience.

“We can transform our future for self-determination, leading from out front, not just for radiology — but for all of medicine.”