ACR Learning Network

Variability frequently occurs across medical practices, including radiology, providing many opportunities for improvement. While improvement is often not easy, most practices and healthcare personnel strive to provide good quality healthcare for patients. Even if a practice is aware of practice gaps and aims for improvement, the pathway to a better outcome may seem insurmountable without dedicated time and resources.

How can we overcome barriers and initiate large-scale improvements across practices and institutions? With a learning health systems approach, facilities can improve diagnostic imaging by working together to solve common problems, experiment with solutions locally, learn from each other and develop global approaches for lasting change.

To initiate this approach, thanks to generous funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the ACR Learning Network is being developed under the leadership of David B. Larson, MD, MBA. Dr. Larson is Professor and Vice Chair of Education and Clinical Operations in the Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chair of the ACR Commission on Quality and Safety; and a member of the ACR Board of Chancellors. “All healthcare is local. Those best equipped to solve real-world problems that matter to patients are teams of leaders and front-line staff at local institutions. Improvement collaboratives provide project and training support for local teams, bringing them together to regularly share progress, ideas, and solutions until they meet their goals,” said Dr. Larson.

The ACR Learning Network will consist of four initial Improvement Collaboratives, each led by a radiologist expert who will supervise improvement teams at four to six facilities.

The four initial Improvement Collaboratives are:

  • Lung Cancer Screening Improvement Collaborative, led by Neville Irani, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and founder of the Healthcare Quality Improvement Platform. Dr. Irani’s Improvement Collaborative aims to improve lung cancer screening rates.

  • Mammography Positioning Improvement Collaborative, led by Sarah Pittman, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Pittman’s Improvement Collaborative aims to establish and maintain consistent, excellent performance in mammographic positioning across the U.S. and internationally.

  • Prostate MR Image Quality Improvement Collaborative, led by Andrei Purysko, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and faculty for the ACR Education Center Prostate MR course. Dr. Purysko’s Improvement Collaborative aims to enable the simultaneous development of effective image quality measures for prostate MRI and to improve prostate MR image quality at local sites, throughout the U.S. and beyond.

  • Recommendations for Follow-Up Improvement Collaborative, led by Ben Wandtke, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Imaging Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center and member the Technical Expert Panel for measure development on the Closing the Recommendations Follow-Up Loop project, also funded by the Moore Foundation. Dr. Wandtke’s Improvement Collaborative aims to identify optimal methods to improve follow-up compliance and promote the proliferation of safety net tracking systems that function more effectively and efficiently than current programs.

Each Improvement Collaborative will be supported by a standard process for improvement. Participants in each Improvement Collaborative will solve the same problem, at the same pace and time, and in the same structured way. Participants will share measures, common issues and solutions to improve performance. Learning together will help identify common methods to build a culture of performance measurement.

For more information about a specific Improvement Collaborative, email ACRLearningNetwork@acr.org.

FUNDED BY THE GORDON AND BETTY MOORE FOUNDATION

The ACR received a grant from the Diagnostic Excellence Initiative of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to improve diagnostic imaging through a learning health systems approach. With a focus on cancer, the ACR Learning Network will simultaneously develop performance measures and validated improvement strategies at multiple local sites, followed by broad dissemination of both measures and improvement strategies.

This will be accomplished by launching a network of four initial individual Improvement Collaboratives, addressing four important areas of performance in cancer diagnosis. As a cohesive learning network, this “collaborative of collaboratives” will set the stage for the program to facilitate diagnostic excellence at local sites at a scale that has been previously unachievable in radiology.

“We are thrilled to be able to support the American College of Radiology in developing this learning network,” said Karen Cosby, MD, program officer for patient care at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “Learning collaboratives are a key method to generate solutions that can be modeled and adapted for use across multiple settings; in this case we hope the collaborative will make a significant difference in improving the diagnosis of cancer.”

The ACR Improvement Collaborative Model

Within each Improvement Collaborative, participating facilities will:

  • Assemble a small group of institutions, led by local leaders, to collectively approach a performance problem.
  • Develop and apply measures to assess performance in the local environment.
  • Create methods to solve the defined problem in the local environment.
  • Share performance data and improvement methods with each other, including successes and failures.
  • Disseminate learnings broadly for others to apply in their relevant environments.
  • Establish programs, expertise and support to help any willing local site improve.

Structured Improvement Program Elements

The 10-session, 8-month quality improvement training program will facilitate the completion of team-based, frontline improvement projects in complex healthcare environments.

Program elements include:

  • Flipped classroom model training with three to five 10-minute, online tutorials assigned between sessions.
  • Tools and templates to support a successful, standard approach to improvement using A3 thinking.
  • Problem solving and change management support to solve the problem identified by the collaborative.
  • Platform for participants to support, encourage and learn best practices from each other.
  • Clear and objective project tracking to ensure project progress.

Participating in an Improvement Collaborative


Each collaborative will include a diverse set of stakeholders, such as referring physicians, medical physicists, technologists, practice managers and radiologists representing different types of practices (urban/rural, academic/community, race/ethnicity and a mix of genders).

The collaborative advisory committees will include patient representatives and patient advocates to integrate patient perspectives, input and feedback into the process. If your facility is interested in participating in one of the learning collaboratives, please complete the Improvement Collaborative Intake Form.

About the Project


The ACR Learning Network is funded by Grant Number 10476 from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a philanthropic entity that supports measurable, durable solutions to important problems, including those in healthcare. The content provided above is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Moore Foundation.