RSNA 2013: Preparing for the Annual Feast

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Cheryl Proval, Vice President, Publishing, imagingBiz, and Editor of Radiology Business Journal.

Cheryl Proval, Vice President, Publishing, imagingBiz, and Editor of Radiology Business Journal.

When viewed over time, the themes that have marked the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America might be seen as signposts indicating the way forward for radiology. From Personalized Medicine in 2010, to Celebrate the Image in 2011, and Patients First in 2012, we can witness radiology moving from an internal focus to a more outward-facing stance.  In 2013, the RSNA signals an even greater transition ahead with its Power of Partnership theme.

Expect the theme to recur throughout the meeting, with several keynotes exploring the potential of clinical partnerships both within and outside the specialty, to improve, optimize, and perhaps even revolutionize patient care.

As medicine grapples with the transition to new payment models on the business side, I see partnership (and its corollary, collaboration) as one of the most potentially transformative concepts working in medicine today.

The trend is evident in the consolidation occurring across the health-care landscape, as former rivals become partners in community health. Not all of these partnerships involve the integration of assets; some simply entail shared mission and IT resources, proving that there are multiple ways to partner.  How well diverse organizations work togethRSNA2013_RGB_Logo_Dateser to deliver health care more effectively and efficiently has great bearing on the future viability of our hospitals.

The same principles likely are at work in the vendor community, which is subject to many of the same forces that are reshaping health care providers: regulatory change, diminishing reimbursement, the need for economies of scale and better access to capital, and the emergence of new, disruptive business models.

Aside from the above pressures, radiology practices are experiencing the additional threat of commoditization.  Everyone who works in radiology understands that there is tremendous variation and complexity involved in the practice of radiology, hardly a ripe environment for commoditization—one would think. Nonetheless, the perception is real, and there are limited clinical quality metrics to counter that belief.

How practices employ the “power of partnership” to combat this perception and to weave themselves into the fabric of care at every level will determine whether the specialty continues to prosper. I see inspirational examples of radiology practices working with other specialties to develop clinical care pathways and standardize imaging protocols. I hear encouraging stories about how practices are working in partnership to develop external as well as internal peer evaluation and other methods of cross-practice quality collaboration. I think that radiology has a great deal to offer its partners in care.

While I often sit on the sidelines and make observations on subjects that others must grapple with, the issue of partnership is one that I will actively live and explore in 2014. The company I work for, imagingBiz, publisher of Radiology Business Journal and a portfolio of digital journals, has merged with TriMed Media, publisher of Health Imaging, and other publications. I have a head start, as I have grown to respect my new partners over the years: We have worked together beneath one banner in the past and competed for business under separate banners more recently.

If radiology does not exactly resemble the Peaceable Kingdom, that is nonetheless a lovely image to take into the Thanksgiving holiday and on to Chicago, as we all investigate partnership and collaboration as a means to succeed, prosper, and meet health care’s new challenges in the year, and years, ahead.


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