RSNA 2016: The Revolution in Radiology Has Begun

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Three long days at the RSNA—reconnecting with old friends, making a few new ones, listening to dozens of talks, visiting the exhibit floor—and I felt like a wildebeest happening upon my favorite waterhole after months of crossing the veldt.

There is no better place to take the temperature of radiology than the annual RSNA meeting, and this year I found a specialty that has undergone serious soul-searching and is in active change mode as it seeks to define and deliver value in radiology.

I sat in on multiple well-attended sessions during which different approaches to improving radiology’s primary product—the report—were described.  In the past, such talks were more theoretical—as few were actively doing much—and the subject of hedging was treated throughout the meeting as an inside joke.

After more than a decade of addressing sparsely filled rooms on the subject of structured reporting, Curtis Langlotz, MD—along with David Larson, MD and William Weadock, MD—imparted pearls and practicum to a standing-room only crowd on how to implement templates, a realistic approach to adding structure to reports.

The RSNA always has devoted program time to the topic of quality improvement. This year, the discussions were more plentiful and more nuanced. In addressing clinical quality, presenters had a new level of honesty and candor. Jonathan Kruskal, MD, chair of radiology department at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chair of the ACR Quality Management Committee boldly flashed a slide exhibiting his own, personal peer review report, quipping, “I’m very proud to share all of my mistakes with everyone, and, boy, do I have a lot of them.”

In concluding the Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology, Vivian Lee, MD, radiologist and CEO of University of Utah Healthcare, urged radiology to own the issue of improving diagnostic error, a problem outlined in the Institute of Medicine’s 2015 report, “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.”

The meeting theme this year was Beyond Imaging, and a rousing Presidential Address was delivered by outgoing RSNA President Richard L. Baron, MD, former chair, University of Chicago Medicine. He suggested that radiology practices reconfigure themselves around their referral base, evolving further the practice of subspecialization.

Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing summaries of these and other talks I attended, but I’d like to depart from the summary approach and begin with detailed coverage of Dr. Baron’s President’s Address. It was an excellent kick-off to a great RSNA 2016 meeting and a strong rallying cry for the revolution that has already begun in the specialty.

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