ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

While the pandemic dominated the ACR’s agenda over the last two years, it nonetheless provided the College with a unique growth opportunity.
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The way in which we present the College to our members, patients, and others is critical to how we identify ourselves and project our impact.

—Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR
March 24, 2022

At ACR 2022 this month, I will be handing over the BOC gavel to Jacqueline A. Bello, MD, FACR. It is appropriate to reflect back on my term at this time.
The majority of my two years as chair of the BOC was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic — certainly not what I expected the College to focus on during my term, but it nonetheless provided us with a unique growth opportunity.

COVID-19 has changed many things, including the ACR. At first, we were concerned about the College’s financial viability. This focus quickly passed after it became clear that our members continued to support the organization. At the same time, we moved quickly to deliver COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines to our patients and our members. We also lobbied for pertinent legislation that delivered federal financial support to our members for their practices and departments. We quickly learned how to adapt and reimagine the College. Our meetings became either completely virtual or hybrid in format. Going forward, we will facilitate having more inclusive and representative meetings, including hybrid formats. Like many other organizations, we learned how to operate with our employees working from home. Moving forward, this flexibility allows us to recruit from a larger workforce. The pandemic allowed us to rethink how we can support our employees’ work-life balance — a major step forward in addressing burnout.

Like many of my predecessors, a constant issue that came up during my term was crisis management — particularly with government relations. With the leadership and guidance of Cynthia Moran, executive vice president of government relations, economics, and health policy, the ACR has one of the most respected and credible government relations teams on Capitol Hill — not only in radiology but in all of medicine. By convening a coalition of more than 100 professional organizations, we were able to hold off the drastic reductions that were slated for radiology that would threaten patients’ access to imaging care. The fact that we were able to influence the legislative agendas despite the myriad distractions at the end of both 2020 and 2021 is truly a remarkable group effort.

Looking forward, we have begun the process of operationalizing our Strategic Plan, thanks to the efforts of Pam Mechler, MS, CAE, vice president of strategic planning and business excellence, and Strategic Planning Committee Co-Chairs Alexander M. Norbash, MD, MS, FACR, and Frank J. Lexa, MD, MBA, FACR. Three strategic initiatives have been identified.

•The first is communication. The priority is to revamp our efforts to find opportunities to be more effective, relevant, and bidirectional with our members.

•The second is volunteerism. We have to maximize opportunities for our members, especially our early-career members, to contribute their expertise to the committees and commissions of the College.

•The third is AI, including data science education. The ACR recognizes the organization’s need to be front and center as AI becomes part of our profession. The ACR Data Science Institute® continues to be one of the most prolific and important endeavors for AI in medicine.

One upcoming initiative for the College will be its rebranding, which will be informed by our work on the Strategic Plan. The way in which we present the College to our members, patients, and others is critical to how we identify ourselves and project our impact. Hence, we will be revisiting the rebranding effort at our next BOC meeting under the guidance of William T. Herrington, MD, FACR, chair of the Commission on Membership and Communications.

The ACR has had many significant accomplishments over the last two years, including the reimagination of the College, a focus on population health management, the launch of the Radiology Health Equity Coalition, the American Institute for Radiologic Pathology™ becoming a managed department of the ACR and being renamed the ACR Institute for Radiologic Pathology, and multiple policy decisions, meetings with chapters, and partnerships with other societies. The College has also had its fair share of controversy. The Medicare Access to Radiology Care Act of 2021, the role of non-physician radiology providers, and scope of practice remain topics of debate for the membership and Council.

These past two years have provided me with a unique opportunity to lead one of the most influential organizations in radiology. Serving as an ACR officer is the capstone of my career with the College. It has been remarkable experience working with very talented volunteer physicians and staff. Although we have lived through interesting times with the challenges of engaging with one another virtually, I very much look forward to future meetings where we can meet again in person.

This final Bulletin column would not be complete without a round of recognitions. First, I must thank Dr. Bello for being a superb vice chair and ACR CEO William T. Thorwarth Jr., MD, FACR, for his steadfast guidance and expertise. Jackie, Bill, and our new vice chair, Alan K. Matsumoto, MD, FACR, will do a phenomenal job in guiding the BOC and representing the organization.

The ACR staff is the best in the association business. Each staff member is committed to the success of the College and our members. Importantly, they recognize the value of contributing to the culture of the organization. I am grateful to the ACR executive vice presidents for their trust, partnerships, guidance, and commitment in moving this organization forward. I am grateful to Nicole Racadag and Lyndsee Cordes, the editors of the Bulletin, who have made these monthly columns the best they could be with the very raw material I delivered. Finally, I am grateful to Eileen LaGreca and Lisa Puertas for their tireless efforts in organizing my workload, keeping me on track, and making sure my schedule was up to date.

Looking forward, I hope to continue to serve the College. The ACR is an incredible organization and well-deserving of its respect and credibility throughout medicine. As physician volunteers, we are paying it forward for our future leaders, partners, and most of all, our patients. I am grateful to you, the membership, for allowing me the opportunity to serve.

Author Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR,  chair of the ACR BOC