Newly launched Radiology Health Equity Coalition highlights specialty’s central role in addressing disparities

Several prominent medical societies have launched a new Radiology Health Equity Coalition and are underlining the specialty’s central role in addressing disparities.

The American College of Radiology unveiled the new effort on Sunday as part of its 2021 annual meeting. Others including RSNA, the American Roentgen Ray Society and the American Board of Radiology are also backing this “commit to act” campaign to improve healthcare outcomes.

Some of the numbers are stark: Black Americans are three times more likely to lose a limb to amputation than others. African American women are 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, while death rates from the disease also differ among the two races, ACR noted. One study estimated that 19% of racial disparities in colorectal cancer death rates can be attributed to less screening.

“If you think of radiology as being the gateway to healthcare through diagnosis, in the arena of access to that care alone, we can have a huge impact,” Jacqueline Bello, MD, chair of the Radiology Health Equity Coalition, told Radiology Business. “For a profession that is always concerned about scope and patients saying we’re ‘the people who take the films,’ what better way of raising your profile than to be front-and-center in providing that access?” she added later.

Those involved with this “mobilized network of patient-focused radiologists” plan to collect and disseminate resources and best practices to begin moving the needle. Advocacy, connecting with community members, and collaborating to create new programs and services are all also on the agenda. ACR is providing seed funding for the coalition through June 2022 and envisions all members having a governance role. The coalition’s mobilization team will work to identify goals and develop an operational plan.

College President Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, introduced the new group during her presidential address on Sunday, May 16.

“Health equity is very much in radiology’s lane,” she said. “And this is a big effort. It’s going to require a lot of change, and as such, it’s not something that the ACR can do alone. It is going to take a community-wide effort, a coalition.”

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