The following post was contributed by Kevin M. Rice, MD, a radiologist in Los Angeles, Calif.

What happens if you type in the Google search box: “radiologists are …”? Chances are you may see something like the below screenshot. Wouldn’t you prefer to see: “radiologists are essential”?

We are the only physicians specially trained in patient diagnosis and care through medical imaging. We save lives and health care dollars by detecting diseases early and pinpointing effective treatment for cancer, heart disease and many other diseases. As radiologists, we are a crucial part of the delivery of patient-centered heath care, and we need to be proactive in relaying this truth.

If we stay in our reading rooms glued to our monitors, others will write our narrative. And, we may not like the story that they are telling.

So, what can we do to inform others about our vital role as radiologists?

Ask yourself the following.

  • Are you a valued as an essential member of the health care team? Or, do you show up hours or later just to provide a perfunctory entry into the medical record?
  • Are your reports succinct and actionable? Or, are they so full of hedges they are rendered meaningless?
  • Are you engaged in the medical staff affairs of the hospitals or health care plans you service? Or, are you on the sidelines letting the decisions that affect you and your patients be made without any radiology input?
  • Are you interacting with your patients in a consequential way? Or, are you invisible to your patients?

If you need help, the American College of Radiology (ACR) provides numerous resources (covering, for example, Imaging 3.0, the Radiology Support, Communication and Alignment Network (R-SCAN) and patient- and family-centered care) to help us take a leadership role in shaping America’s future health care system.

What are you doing in your practice as a radiologist to be certain you are considered essential?

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