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  • My Turn: Three Things on My Mind

    By Vijay M. Rao, MD

    January 1, 2018

    As I start my term as RSNA president, there is much to be excited about in our profession. Three things in particular are on my mind.

    First is health services research. This has been a personal interest of mine for years, and I believe it has now become a major frontier in radiology research. It is critically important that policymakers (and radiologists) become aware of trends in utilization and costs of imaging, patterns of use, quality of imaging, how imaging influences patient care and how our quality improvement efforts affect outcomes. Radiologists should explore ways to add value and help reduce waste in healthcare, thereby reducing costs. These topics need to be the focus of even more research in upcoming years.

    Also on my mind is artificial intelligence (AI). There are many diverse opinions about AI. Some have predicted it will replace radiologists. I don’t agree. On the contrary, I foresee exciting potential applications of AI that will make us more effective, quantitative and precise, and allow us to make a more meaningful contribution to personalized medicine. AI will become a welcome adjunct to radiology practice, potentially easing the global manpower shortage and burnout among radiologists, and becoming a crucial aspect of research and education at RSNA for years to come. Appropo to this, next year RSNA will launch a new online journal dedicated to research in machine learning and AI.

    The third thing on my mind is patient-centered radiology. A lot has been written about patient-centered radiology, which requires us to be directly involved in the patients’ care, holistically from scheduling through reporting. Some ways to do this include spending more time talking with patients, making imaging facilities friendlier, tailoring each study to their specific clinical circumstances beforehand and taking over the scheduling and management of their imaging care. Interventional radiologists and breast imagers are already doing this to some extent. It also means collaborating with our physician colleagues who are providing direct clinical care of patients. We need to better educate them about appropriateness and the capabilities of imaging and to be more readily available to them as consultants. This is especially true as primary care is increasingly being provided by physician assistants and nurse practitioners, who are not as familiar with imaging guidelines as experienced clinicians. Maybe we’ll eventually see subspecialty radiologists embedded directly within the corresponding clinical departments and talking with the patients along with those clinical specialists. Or maybe we’ll see radiologists making rounds on hospital patients along with the clinical services. Since AI will provide tools to make us more efficient, it could free up time for radiologists to become more visible and patient-centered.

    I applaud RSNA for staying true to its mission of promoting excellence in patient care and healthcare delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. RSNA’s digital roadmap will provide an innovative platform to promote education worldwide. RSNA is blessed with outstanding leadership, dedicated staff and committed volunteers who selflessly make invaluable contributions. I will do everything I can to ensure that RSNA continues to enlighten the radiology community and the rest of the medical world about these and other things throughout the year.

    Rao My Turn
    RSNA President Vijay M. Rao, MD, is the David C. Levin Professor and Chair of Radiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and senior vice president and chair of Enterprise Radiology and Imaging at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.