At the time of writing, the U.S. is in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACR has been an authoritative voice on the appropriate use of imaging and has worked actively with Congress to ensure that our health system and economy can survive this crisis. The challenges of caring for a diverse population, as well as the likely longer-term impact on our nation’s economic health, have highlighted the need for radiologists to be at the leadership table to ensure that we deliver on our core commitment: to serve patients and society by empowering members to advance the practice, science, and professions of radiological care.1 While the goals articulated in our strategic plan do not specifically address health equity, it is impossible for us to adhere to our values without striving for our patients to have access to the highest-quality imaging that is appropriate for them.2
Our national discussion on healthcare reform continues in parallel to the pandemic, and the complexities of our delivery system — and its financing — are beyond the scope of this column. That said, your ACR remains committed to bringing your voice to the fora where decisions are made that can impact patients and your ability to care for them. Even as we continue the fight to ensure continued insurance coverage of mammography screening for all women starting at 40, we must also advocate for research funding to understand and address the gap in breast cancer outcomes for African-American women.3 Our efforts to decrease deaths from lung cancer could not end with Medicare’s 2015 decision to pay for screening with low-dose CT. We must continue the fight against stigma and inadequate reimbursement that disproportionately affect those with mental illness.4 Recognizing the access challenges faced by patients in rural areas, we must devote resources and energy to supporting our general, small, emergency, and/or rural practice radiology community, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Understanding the imaging needs of children with chronic disease, we push back strongly on insurance company policies that seek to divert them away from the facilities who have coordinated their care. We must leverage every opportunity to improve the quality and appropriateness of imaging so that all patients are better served.
What we must never do is be satisfied. There is always more we can accomplish as a profession. Prioritization is critically important, and for this we employ a robust strategic planning process to ensure that we match our ACR efforts with our goals. As a community, we must challenge ourselves to ensure that no patient is denied the benefit that medical imaging can provide.