Demonstrations and skits add pizzazz to SIIM meeting

June 1, 2009

Looking for a practical meeting where you can apply what you've learned to everyday practice?

Looking for a practical meeting where you can apply what you've learned to everyday practice? And perhaps learn it in an interesting way? The annual Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine meeting, which takes place in Charlotte, NC, this year, has it covered. The program committee has added new applied learning tracks to spice up its conference.

Based on attendee feedback, SIIM created applied learning tracks that feature hands-on learning, skits, panel discussions, and point/counterpoint debates for its June 4 to 7 meeting, said SIIM committee chair Dr. Katherine Andriole.

“We hope it's going to be a positive thing. It's something attendees did ask for at last year's meeting because they liked the few things that we did, and so we're excited about that. We'll see how it goes,” said Andrioloe, an assistant medical director of imaging IT in the radiology department and medical director of imaging informatics at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

There are nine tracks at this SIIM meeting: basics of imaging informatics, communicating results, image acquisition and management, advanced visualization, enterprise imaging, PACS operations, breast imaging informatics, imaging center PACS, and interoperability and integration. The committee worked to include an educational talk, a research paper, and something more interactive within each track, according to Andriole.

The committee added the applied learning tracks to address practical concerns of attendees. Lectures are good for beginners because they set up a framework, but they aren't so good at helping people solve problems, according to SIIM marketing chair Dr. Paul J. Chang, vice chair of radiology informatics at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.

“People will go to a lecture pitched to a certain level, and they'll say, ‘Well that was either too basic or over my head, and they didn't address my real issue.' We're not getting rid of those lectures, but the lectures are one of three components,” he said.

Scientific sessions have a similar problem because they are usually cutting edge and lack relevance for the everyday practitioner or someone who is not in academics, according to Chang.

“What we wanted to do was create an applied learning session where interactivity with the audience is an important component. Instead of waiting until the end for questions, we want to ask questions during, to have the discussion driven by the participants,” he said.

An early example of that approach will be the opening general session, with a critical tests workflow demonstration. Presenters will act out a skit of a typical reading room and how the radiology department communicates with other doctors.

“In order for radiologists to be relevant to patient care, we have to be much more efficient. But we also have to be much better with respect to the timeliness and quality of the consultation,” Chang said.

Right now the report alone is inadequate, especially when it comes to trauma, he said.

“In trauma, what good is a report that comes back a couple of hours later, even with speech recognition? By that time the patient is dead, admitted, or discharged,” Chang said.

The skit will emphasize using the right tools for communication-like text messaging, e-mail, and websites-avenues radiologists already use outside of work.

There will be a panel discussion on who owns imaging, Chang said. PACS is not just radiology-centric anymore, so who controls it? How do radiologists innovate? Are radiologists just customers now?

“We're going to have a panel discussion that will include vendors, who are essentially arms dealers, right? They don't care [about turf]. They just want to sell the set,” he said.

Also on the panel will be hospital administrators, chief information officers, and radiologists, according to Chang.

Besides the applied learning sessions, the SIIM committee is excited about the keynote speaker, Dr. Henry Petroski, a professor of civil engineering and history at Duke University. Petroski is well known for his book, To Engineer is Human: the Role of Failure in Successful Design.