In a video report as chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Board of Chancellors, Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, presented the 2020 ACR annual meeting with her assessment of the challenges radiologists are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions the ACR is taking to assure their recovery after the crisis abates.
McGinty noted the unprecedented nature of these times and the losses suffered by the radiology community from the pandemic. “We mourn that loss,” she said. “Many of you have suffered from this disease and many more are scarred by the challenge of caring for our communities.”
McGinty expressed her admiration for the speaker and the vice speaker, aided by ACR staff, for creating a virtual meeting and governance process that insures the continuity of our organization and provides a way to connect virtually, while many other medical societies have cancelled their meetings because of the technical obstacles.
“As we have lived through this crisis, I’ve learned so much about our resilience and humanity as a community, and about the foundations on which our organization stands,” McGinty said.
To strengthen those foundations, the ACR has strategically invested volunteer time, expertise and financial resources to assure that its members are acknowledged as leaders in the delivery and development of quality healthcare, McGinty stressed.
Members of the ACR have shown their leadership in many ways during the crisis, she noted. On a global scale, they are providing guidance on the appropriate use of imaging and were early advocates for the cessation of non-urgent imaging and treatment despite financial hardships. Radiologists responded with tools and materials to assure the safety of medical personnel and patients. With the ACR’s assistance, they helped persuade Congress to allocate financial relief that recognizes radiology’s importance for healthcare delivery and the general economy, especially in rural areas. Additionally, radiology’s research and data science experts have rallied to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 registry to capture imaging and clinical data relevant to future assessments of the pandemic.
As for how the pandemic might change radiology, McGinty posed questions about possible threats posed by a severe downturn of the general economy, imaging utilization declines, the radiologist job market and the relaxation of state licensure and scope-of-practice regulation.
But McGinty was also optimistic about the future. Despite economic uncertainties, she expressed confidence in the ACR’s expert advocacy and economics teams, which are working on innovative reimbursement models that drive appropriate imaging.
She said the ACR’s human resources and patient- and family-centered care teams are creating new practice models that will preserve radiologists’ autonomy and humanity as family members, physicians and colleagues.
Scope of practice threats will be mitigated by the ACR’s quality and safety team through rigorous and transparent assessments of physician and practice performance. The growth of more seamless information exchange during the pandemic and the work of the ACR Commission on Informatics may finally render CDs for image transfer obsolete.
The ACR’s responses will also include building upon educational offerings, an ongoing commitment to imaging science and — with the success of the ACR’s first virtual annual meeting — the likely continued use of real-time, web-based video streaming to facilitate communications.
McGinty warned against disunity over differences between academic versus private practice, single versus multi-specialists and diagnostic radiology versus interventional radiology. “We are one imaging community, and we are stronger together,” she concluded.