ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

Tracking Member Trends

The College is providing members an ongoing mechanism to respond to matters of interest and concern — ultimately helping the ACR to become a more diverse, inclusive, and resilient organization.
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Two-thirds of members say the ACR provides excellent or very good value for the dues paid.

June 29, 2021

In October of 2020, ACR BOC Chair Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, asked the Board and staff to “reimagine” the ACR. As noted in the May 2021 Bulletin, “The pandemic has changed many things,” wrote Fleishon. “The College now has the opportunity to reimagine how we deliver services and value to our members and our patients.”

Reimagining an organization is never easy, but it does represent an opportunity to be introspective about the ACR’s role, to better focus on its mission, and to reinvent ways to serve members and patients. Understanding how members and non-members view the ACR and the benefits they obtain from membership is critical in guiding the organization’s mission and its commitments to stakeholders.

In 2018, the College embarked on a tracking study to identify and monitor trends in membership over time to more effectively and proactively manage the relationship between the ACR and its stakeholders. The 2018 survey served as the baseline for future check-ins with members.

In late 2020, the College reached out again to more than 1,600 members and non-members to ask about areas such as COVID-19, consolidation, resident trends, health policy, and radiology fellowships.

Questions asked regarding member participation and satisfaction with the ACR revealed that:

  • The ACR is valued by its members. Members are satisfied with the ACR, with over eight in 10 saying that they plan to continue to renew their membership and that belonging to the ACR is something they are proud to do or must do to support the profession.
  • Two-thirds of members say the ACR provides excellent or very good value for the dues paid. Members are also likely to recommend the ACR to their colleagues.
  • Members actively look for ways to participate with the ACR: the vast majority have participated in an ACR activity, and notably, the portion who are not currently actively participating with the College has dropped significantly, from 33% in 2018 to 25% in 2020. Many members make donations to RADPAC® and significantly more in 2020 than in 2018 have participated in an ACR legislative or regulatory calls to action. The survey also found that higher participation and higher satisfaction paralleled each other.

The survey also asked about residency and fellowship. Two-thirds of radiology residents stated that they planned to do a one-year fellowship, the next most common going directly in to practice with few opting for a two-year extra time commitment. In addition, members indicated a preference for the term “fellowship-trained diagnostic radiologist,” as opposed to “diagnostic radiologist.” Given the ACR’s heightened interest in supporting rural clinicians, the survey asked radiology residents if they were interested in pursuing a rural community practice following their residency/fellowship — and 30% of residents who responded said they were.

Consolidation continued to impact radiology as it has many other specialties. About half (49%) of radiologists say they experienced some type of consolidation.

  • Radiologists in private practice are less likely to have seen any mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the past three years.
  • Radiologists in academic or hospital/hospital system settings are more likely to say that they have seen M&A activity with other hospitals/systems.
  • Radiologists in a national practice are also significantly more likely than others to have seen M&A activity with another national entity.

Reimagining an organization is never easy, but it does represent an opportunity to be introspective about the ACR’s role, to better focus on its mission, and to reinvent ways to serve members and patients.

KEY POINT: Nearly 40% of respondents believe that consolidation will have a significant impact on them in the future, regardless of whether they have already been affected by it.

Data for this survey at the end of 2020, in the middle of the winter surge of COVID-19, mirrored members’ perspective on the pandemic at that time:

  • A majority of members (59%) reported that they very much valued opportunities to participate in reduced-cost or free ACR webinars on topics relating to the pandemic.
  • Members valued the ACR providing support with virtual chapter and related meetings (47%), as well as the COVID-19 resource pages on the website (43%).

KEY POINT: The ACR’s COVID-19 resources were valuable to a significant portion of the membership. Maintaining a nimble, informative, and timely response to unique challenges will continue to be important in the future.

When it comes to health policy initiatives, eight in 10 indicated that the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (inclusive of new codes), E/M expansion, telehealth, and the impact of health policies on radiology should be high priorities for the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute® (NHPI). A second tier of investigative topics included utilization and cost/price trends (74%) and accountable payment models (71%).

KEY POINT: Overall interest in research topics that respondents feel should be investigated by the NHPI was similar among diagnostic radiologists (DRs) and IRs, with the following exceptions: DRs are more interested in exploring radiology utilization and cost/ price trends (75% versus 64%), while IRs are more interested in practice consolidations (61% versus 55%).

The purpose of conducting a member survey is to put the findings to use. The ACR will continue to reimagine ways to enhance the member experience through its support of the profession through advocacy, quality and safety programs, economics, data science, and clinical research.