Alexander Ding, MD, MS, MBA, Associate Vice President for Physician Strategy and Medical Affairs at Humana and Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, contributed this piece.

What happens when radiology doesn't take up an interest in leadership?

I see it as one of two roads. Either we take up the mantle of leadership and rise to the occasion, doing the difficult work in tackling the challenges of the day and setting the agenda for the future, OR we sit back and let someone else decide what the future of our profession holds. That's why I am so keen on the work of the Radiology Leadership Institute®, because it protects and drives the future of radiology by building its needed leaders today.

There are four issues facing the field of radiology today that stand out to me that need urgent attention:

1.  Workforce shortages: Workforce shortages are affecting us as practice managers in creating difficulty in filling roles and meeting capacity needs to keep up with the rising volumes. Workforce shortages also are affecting us as practitioners because many of us feel underwater with being able to keep up with workload demands. This is leading to a concerning rise of burnout of our clinical workforce.

2.  Economic sustainability of practice: Practices are struggling, and we are seeing consolidation with roll-ups and health system acquisitions. We need to make sure that the health system understands the value that radiology brings to patient care and that we are appropriately remunerated for the value that we add.

3.  Deployment of advanced technologies like AI: The promise of augmented intelligence can add a lot to radiology. As technology leaders in healthcare, how does radiology lead and set those guardrails appropriate to ensuring accuracy, explainability, generalizabilty, and mitigating bias of AI models.

4.  The invisibility of the radiologist: Being invisible poses a major risk to our success in that “out of sight is out of mind.” It risks us not being able to show the value we provide to patient care. It risks commoditization, and it risks us not being at the table when key decisions are made. It depersonalizes us as radiologists to our colleagues and it risks depersonalizing our patients to us as medical professionals.

Given the urgent challenges we are all seeing in radiology, it is incumbent upon us to feel empowered to address these issues and to lead through this time of change and challenge. The 2024 ACR-RBMA Practice Leadership Forum is a great place to start. The event provides attendees with a larger picture of understanding these challenges, builds essential leadership skills and tools, and brings together a great network of radiology leaders to share ideas and brainstorm solutions together. What makes it different from other radiology meetings is that it is focused on efficient practice management issues that you can do a deep dive into, in the hopes of bringing that directly back to your practices to address those vexing challenges your colleagues are experiencing at home. I hope you’ll register your team and join me for my keynote lecture.

Our field of radiology continually evolves with new challenges and opportunities, and we must be equipped to ignite growth, navigate change and accelerate success in the road ahead.

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