ACR and ARRS announce strategic alliance

February 6, 2009

The American College of Radiology and the American Roentgen Ray Society have announced a strategic alliance combining educational efforts formerly pursued independently by the two professional medical societies.

The American College of Radiology and the American Roentgen Ray Society have announced a strategic alliance combining educational efforts formerly pursued independently by the two professional medical societies.

If approved, the proposed "strategic integration," announced Feb. 6 falls short of merger. The names, identities, and governing bodies of the two organizations will remain intact, said Dr. James H. Thrall, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

Under the agreement, the educational missions of ARRS and ACR will be combined, with ARRS taking the lead in developing and delivering scientific and educational programs for members of both organizations. ACR will continue programs related to government health policy, economics, quality and safety, and clinical research.

"We believe this plan adds to the strengths of both organizations," said ARRS president Dr. John K. Crowe. "In the future, it will be better to be interdependent, rather than independent."

Governance of the two organizations will overlap with the creation of five seats on the ACR Board of Chancellors that would be filled by ARRS leaders and two new seats on the ARRS Executive Council that will be filled by ACR leaders, Thrall said in an interview. Both organizations will continue to maintain separate membership rolls.

Roentgen Ray members will vote April 29 on required bylaw changes authorizing the alliance during the business meeting of the ARRS annual meeting in Boston. The ACR approved necessary changes to its bylaws in anticipation of the plan at its 2008 annual meeting. A few housekeeping issues still require attention on the ACR side, Thrall said.

With 32,000 members, the ACR, founded in 1924, caters to board-certified radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, interventional radiologists, and nuclear medicine physicists. Based in Reston, VA, it has served as the primary political wing of radiology, serving its political interests in Washington, DC. Its increasing role in education and socioeconomic issues is reflected in the $5 million ACR Radiology Educational Center established in 2008 in Reston and the American Journal of the American College of Radiology, a monthly peer-reviewed journal covering imaging practice management. The ACR also plays a major role in research through the American College of Radiology Imaging Network.

Based in Leeburg, VA, the 20,000-member ARRS is the nation's oldest professional society of medical imaging, founded in 1900. Its mission revolves mainly around the promotion of scientific research and education. The society publishes the American Journal of Roentgenology and sponsors a well-attended annual meeting.

The primary benefits of the alliance will revolve around exploiting operational economies of scale and reducing redundancies in educational programming, Thrall said. The opportunities were driven home for ACR officials as they organized courses at the group's new educational center. Its emphasis on education increasingly placed it into competition with the ARRS for mentors and faculty members.

"We would rather work with each other to make the most of these unique resources," he said.

The collaboration would also help keep costs in line, including the $750 ACR annual member dues, he said.

"This is all about maximizing value. We think we will be able to create more value for the members of both organizations," he said. "We are going to do some marvelous things together."