During her video report as chair of the ACR BOC, Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, presented the ACR 2020 annual meeting virtual attendees with her assessment of the challenges radiologists are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions ACR is taking to assure their recovery after the crisis abates.
McGinty, now president of the ACR, 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.”
To strengthen those foundations, 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.
ACR members 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 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 discussed 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 she was also optimistic about the future. Despite economic uncertainties, she expressed confidence in ACR’s expert advocacy and economics teams, which are working on innovative reimbursement models that drive appropriate imaging. She said 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.
We are one imaging community and we are stronger together.
Scope of practice threats will be mitigated by 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. ACR’s responses will also include building upon educational offerings, an ongoing commitment to imaging science, and — with the success of 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 IR. “We are one imaging community,” she concluded, “and we are stronger together.”