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Tackling Medical Imaging Challenges Through Leadership

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From cuts in reimbursement to changes in practice models, there is no shortage of critical issues facing the profession of radiology. So what to do? Become leaders, said members of a panel speaking at RSNA 2011 Monday.

From cuts in reimbursement to changes in practice models, there is no shortage of critical issues facing the profession of radiology. So what to do? Become leaders, said members of a panel speaking at RSNA 2011 Monday.

“We need to recast an introspective spotlight on ourselves and determine who we are [and] what value we provide,” said John Patti, MD, FACR, chair of the ACR board of chancellors.

Patti said he was confident in the security of radiology’s role in the future of healthcare. The future is indeed bright for the profession. But, he added “we have to live in the present,” where society is challenging the industry to defend medical imaging and the value of radiologists.

“Strong leadership is the way we create that opportunity,” he said. “At every level of radiology practice and every nonclinical endeavor we undertake as radiologists, we need to understand the issues and the challenges.”

Patti described just how radiologists should take on this leadership role: by example, not direction; with a vision that empowers followers; in a way that’s transformational rather than transactional. To be most effective, leaders need to know the individuals they are working with, including their needs and perspectives.

“We need to recapture the center of the healthcare enterprise,” Patti said, by demonstrating the value added through service and professionalism.

For example, he said, why not create a radiology line of service within the healthcare organization that includes nonradiologists as the ancillary providers, rather than radiologists being the ancillary providers? Why not design payment systems that compensate radiologists for the non-interpretive work? Perhaps restructure your practice business model to allocate 10 percent of the workforce to non-interpretive services?

Find ways to provide a higher level or service, he said, and remember that it’s not enough to just perform the test that was ordered. “An exclusive focus on image interpretation diminishes that role,” he said.

What do you think? How can radiologists emerge as leaders, and what traits do you think are critical for strong leadership?

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