Looking back: 3 key takeaways from ACR chair’s ‘midterm update’

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 - James A. Brink, MD, FACR

James Brink, MD, head of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, has reached the halfway point of his two-year term as chair of the American College of Radiology’s (ACR’s) Board of Chancellors. To reflect on his time in the position thus far, Brink penned a “midterm update” for the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“Let me say what a privilege it is to serve in this capacity,” he wrote. “I consider it a distinct honor to help guide the direction of the college, for the benefit of our patients and our profession.”

These are a few key takeaways from Brink’s update:

1. The ACR takes its message very seriously—and updates it when needed.

In 2016, for example, they launched a “brand assessment and positioning initiative” to make sure its actions were properly aligned with its strategic plan. Later this year, a “midterm performance review” is planned to review that strategic plan and see what may need to be updated.

“The brand assessment and positioning initiative was launched in part because of a sense that policymakers may view the ACR’s advocacy efforts as emphasizing practitioner impacts primarily rather than clearly and consistently highlighting patient impacts,” Brink wrote. “The college is focused wholeheartedly on patient- and family-centered care.”

A member survey is planned for the near future to further investigate what may need to be changed in regard to the ACR’s brand and its vision.

2. As one might expect, machine learning is on the ACR’s radar.

One of the biggest topics in healthcare right now is the impact of machine learning and AI. Brink confirmed that ACR leadership has spent a lot of time considering just how different the future of patient care may look as a result of these technologies—and what the ACR can do to help specialists adapt to this brave new world.

“At a basic level, clinical data science involves identifying appropriate use cases for machine learning and artificial intelligence, to curate data to train algorithms for specific medical imaging applications, to validate trained algorithms for clinical use, and to implement them clinically,” he wrote. “Although the domain of these activities is focused largely in industrial and academic centers, a host of important issues must be addressed to ensure that such algorithms improve clinical practice rather than detract from it. Issues related to education and adoption, standards and regulatory issues, and legal and ethical issues must be addressed.”

Brink added that the ACR launched the Data Science Institute (DSI) in May, with Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, appointed as its chief data science officer. In addition, Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, is chairing the DSI’s Artificial Intelligence Advisory Group, which will work to gather input from “a broad range of stakeholders” and communicate that input to the DSI.

3. Diversity remains a top priority

Diversity and mentoring programs are both seen as essential to the future of radiology. On that note, Brink praised the work of Katarzyna Macura, MD, PhD, and the Commission for Women and Diversity’s new Pipeline Initiative for Enrichment of Radiology.

“This program involves mentoring women and underrepresented minorities during medical training so that they may be positively disposed to enter radiologic professions downstream,” he wrote. “The first class of participants will come to ACR headquarters in Reston, Virginia, early this summer to embark on their mentoring program, and I am excited to see the fruits of these efforts for years to come.”

Brink also wrote about the continued efforts of the ACR Foundation, the Radiology Leadership Institute’s recent successes, and how the ACR Economics Committee is focused on helping specialists keep up with the latest twists and turns associated with MACRA.