Innovation, Patient Focus Will Help Radiology Thrive for Next 100 Years
After 100 years of discovery, innovation and research, radiology has proven to be one of the most impactful disciplines in medicine, but radiologists need to do even more to push the boundaries of scientific inquiry, said RSNA President N. Reed Dunnick, M.D., during his President's Address on Sunday.
By Paul LaTour
"If we couple our historical strength in research and discovery with our new focus on delivering patient-centered care, I believe the RSNA and radiology will be well positioned for the next 100 years of service to the world," said Dr. Dunnick, Fred Jenner Hodges Professor and chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.
Six elements, he said, are key to helping radiology continue to evolve, change and adapt into the future: developing the next generation of researchers; finding new and better ways of educating practicing radiologists as research yields new imaging and therapeutic techniques; funding the work of those with talent and great ideas; promoting synergy and partnership across disciplines within radiology as well as with external sectors; creating far-reaching, smart public-sector policies; and continuing to forge strong working relationships with members of the imaging equipment industry.
While those steps are a great start, however, they "get us only halfway to our envisioned future," Dr. Dunnick said. The other half, he said, comes from coupling the impact of scientific advances with true patient-centered care—it is essential for radiologists to remember there is a person behind the images they see every day.
"Outcomes are improved when patients understand their care and when radiologists communicate more proactively with others on the healthcare team, sharing ideas and insights," he said. "Our profession as a whole is strengthened as our interconnection with patients and the healthcare team makes radiologists more relevant and valuable than ever before." RSNA's Radiology Cares initiative is evidence of the promise offered by this new "value over volume" paradigm, he added.
Imaging Has Been "Transformational" for Medicine
Quoting from the RSNA 1997 President's Address delivered by Michael A. Sullivan, M.D., Dr. Dunnick said "research is integral to high-quality patient care" and radiologists have proven it repeatedly with the scientific achievements and innovations that have improved patients' lives.
Advances in ultrasound, CT and MR imaging illustrate the point, Dr. Dunnick said. Ultrasound has virtually replaced liver biopsies for patients with cirrhosis in Europe; CT has eliminated exploratory laparotomies because it is so accurate in identifying abdominal pathology; and MRI has made it possible to acquire a vast array of information about structure in the body.
"The cumulative effect of all of these modalities—ultrasound, CT, MRI, and others—has been nothing short of transformational for medicine," Dr. Dunnick said. "Just think of it, today an imaging study is obtained at almost every medical encounter."
Dr. Dunnick kept his focus on the future, but also included the intertwined histories of radiology and RSNA. (See related story).
"I am convinced that we will conduct the research needed to advance our field and that this new, exciting approach to radiology will prevail," Dr. Dunnick said. "I am personally committed to it and I hope all of you will be as well—it's a golden opportunity to truly shape the future of our profession."