Reflection Can Provide Momentum

By Paul LaTour

N. Reed Dunnick, M.D.

In order to successfully move forward, often it is necessary to reflect upon the past. That is what 2014 RSNA President N. Reed Dunnick, M.D., hopes to make clear during the President's Address, "Reflect on the Past, Prepare for the Future," which he will deliver today at 8:30 a.m. in the Arie Crown Theater.

The occasion of the 100th RSNA annual meeting and its theme, "A Century of Transforming Medicine," offered the perfect opportunity to look back while also focusing on the future and radiology's continued integral role in healthcare, Dr. Dunnick said.

"We certainly don't want to dwell on the past, but it is often helpful to look back and reflect on things that worked well, and those that didn't," said Dr. Dunnick, the Fred Jenner Hodges Professor and chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich. "In my opinion, we have been most successful when we focused on what we can do to provide better medical care for our patients."

One need not look far to find examples of success, Dr. Dunnick said. Since Wilhelm Roentgen announced his discovery of the X-ray in 1895 and certainly since the RSNA was founded in 1915 as the Western Roentgen Society, diagnostic radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists have led the way with the enormous advances in medical imaging. Included are newer cross-sectional imaging modalities such as ultrasound, CT and MR imaging that allow radiologists to not only diagnose medical illness, but also to guide treatment. Throughout all the changes, radiography and fluoroscopy have been refined and made safer.

More recently radiologists and equipment manufacturers have worked to develop new imaging modalities and protocols to dramatically reduce radiation dose for patients as concerns from the general public have increased attention on the subject.

Use Past to Empower Future

Amid the celebration there must also be a look forward to ensure radiology's place in the ever-changing healthcare landscape of the present and future, Dr. Dunnick said. Radiology has shown its value in the overall healthcare picture—medical imaging has become so good, an imaging study is almost a given for any healthcare encounter. With that popularity radiology has become a target for cost-cutting measures because of the expenses associated with imaging for patients and insurance companies.

"Radiologists must lead the effort to utilize medical imaging appropriately and to perform the studies as safely as possible," Dr. Dunnick said. "When considered in light of the information gained from medical imaging compared with the cost, we provide great value."

Research is another key area where radiologists and other imaging scientists must take the lead, Dr. Dunnick added. "We must translate discoveries made in the laboratory into clinical practice," he said. "The Clinical Trials Workshop presented by the RSNA each January is an effort to train radiologists to run clinical trials that demonstrate the value of imaging.

"In order for radiology examinations to become accepted as imaging biomarkers, we must become more quantitative," Dr. Dunnick continued. "If we can do that, we have the potential to facilitate new drug evaluations and markedly decrease the cost to bring new treatments to clinical practice."

Dr. Dunnick stressed that the future is bright for radiology, as long as radiologists remain committed to maintain intellectual leadership in the field, just as those who came before them did.

"I would like all radiologists to reflect on our wonderful history and how we have transformed medical care around the world," Dr. Dunnick said. "But we cannot rest on our laurels and must continue to advance our field by supporting research and delivering quality patient care."

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