ACR reboots annual meeting with focus on leadership

2014 07 23 16 08 13 472 Acr Logo 200

With the launch this spring of its "new and improved" annual meeting, the American College of Radiology (ACR) hopes to inspire its members to take on active leadership roles in their communities and practices. And leadership doesn't only mean serving as the chair of one's practice or board.

"With this meeting, we hope to encourage radiology professionals to understand the importance of leadership, broadly defined," Dr. Cheri Canon, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Canon heads the program planning committee for the meeting. "It's not only serving in typical leadership roles, it's bigger than that," she said.

Dr. Cheri Canon from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.Dr. Cheri Canon from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Historically, ACR's annual meeting has been a governance gathering called the ACR Annual Meeting and Chapter Leadership Conference (AMCLC), during which ACR Council members debated and approved ACR policies. But a few years ago, Dr. Paul Ellenbogen, former chair of ACR's Board of Chancellors, suggested that ACR expand its meeting and demonstrate how its quality and safety efforts, political advocacy, and regulatory endeavors directly relate to radiologists' ability to provide clinical care, ACR CEO Dr. William Thorwarth Jr. told

"Many of our members don't know much about the ACR Council or what the college does in the political and regulatory arenas," Thorwarth said. "Dr. Ellenbogen's idea was to have a meeting that would include information about those efforts, but link it to clinical care. Once we'd conceptualized a meeting like this, we formed a committee to plan it, with Dr. Canon at the head."

5 pillars

Canon's group has developed a program that includes more than 100 sessions in clinical and leadership education.

"We wanted to develop content around the five pillars of ACR: quality and safety, clinical research, education, economics, and government relations," she said. "Our intention is to arm our attendees with the information and skills they need to go back to their practices and make incremental improvements."

Clinical sessions will be arranged around key advocacy efforts ACR has made -- with one important example being CT lung cancer screening. On February 5, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would begin paying for screening exams.

"As we planned this meeting, we kept revisiting our commitment to identify important clinical content that applies to the ACR's advocacy efforts," Canon said. "[The American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN)] and the Lung Screening Study group collaborated to conduct the National Lung Screening Trial, and that led to the push to get Medicare to reimburse for this important screening tool. So, at the meeting, there will be sessions that not only help attendees learn how to interpret these exams, but also how to create a lung cancer screening program at their institutions."

The conference will include a number of special speakers:

  • Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell will give the keynote address.
  • Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer and deputy administrator for innovation and quality for CMS, will give a talk on healthcare delivery and payment changes.
  • Frank Cespedes, PhD, of Harvard Business School, and Dan Raviv, a national correspondent for CBS News, will offer sessions on leadership.
  • Dr. James Thrall, former chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, will give the Moreton Lecture on how personalized and precision medicine will affect radiology.

In addition, attendees can participate in a "Capitol Hill Day," during which they will meet with their state's congressional representatives and senators -- after preparation offered by the ACR Government Relations team.

"We hope that this expanded meeting will increase radiology's visibility in Congress," Thorwarth told

In an era of dramatic healthcare changes, leadership skills are key, according to Thorwarth. ACR's new annual meeting will offer members a place to get support for developing these skills.

"As healthcare and its delivery continue to shift, radiologists need to be leaders in that process, not bystanders," he said. "We've created an opportunity for our members to get a better sense of what the college does on our behalf, and to empower them to be movers and shakers in their communities."

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