As we enter this year, having narrowly missed the fiscal cliff, we continue the hair-raising episodes of life in American health care.
The problem with writing down a list of New Year's resolutions is that at some point, someone is going to remind you that last year, you actually took the time to write a list. And so, it is time to review my list and see how well I did.
So, here is my list from last year, revisited:
1. Image gently.
Last year, the radiology leadership pushed many things. By far the best has been the Image Gently campaign. The most important effort I did last year was to increase the number of calls I made to clinicians. This is a great place to start. A simple conversation goes a long way in changing the way our colleagues think about using imaging. A collegial discussion on the best algorithm to use for imaging specific problems can yield very positive results.
Recommending ultrasound or MRI as the first test where appropriate, decreasing the use of contrast when not needed and eliminating imaging completely when possible benefits patients and decreases costs.
2. Learn more.
Can we ever learn too much — not just about radiology but about health and health care in general? Reading more tweets, blogs, Facebook pages and articles outside radiology raised my awareness significantly as to what is happening in other parts of the health care system. Radiology, while a foundation, is not the end of the story when it comes to health care. Understanding the trials and tribulations of our colleagues is important. What is happening in health care in general, and not just in the United States, will impact your practice, like it or not.
3. Step up and be heard.
I must admit, this is one area where I came up short of my goals. I did step up significantly and increased my participation within a national professional organization, the American Society of Emergency Radiology; however, my involvement in nonprofessional, political activities that affect radiology did not receive the same focus. During a presidential election cycle, the number of voices clamoring for something drowns nearly every opportunity to actually be heard.
This year, I want to continue to increase my participation in other professional organizations. More importantly, I also want to seek more opportunities and become involved in the political process. Between now and approximately 12 to 15 months from now, the government actually governs. After that, the next cycle of elections begins and politicians tend to stop hearing though they continue to look like they listen. So, now is the time to get involved if we want to actually make real changes.
4. Join and get involved.
I am a member of a number of professional organizations within radiology. This number did not significantly change from previous years. A number of our professional organizations did see a loss of membership due to a variety of issues including the continuing economic problems our country has been facing.
Now is not the time to abandon these organizations. Sometimes, involvement is just paying dues so these organizations can continue to do their good work. I have selected those organizations I want to support. Every radiologist should do the same to their fullest extent.
So, there we have it. There were some areas of improvement, and some where I fell short of my goals. I believe that 2013 is going to offer us the same roller coaster of issues we saw in 2012. As noted, there is the potential for even greater changes as Congress and the president try to govern and make substantial changes before the next election cycle.
Professional organizations are continuing their mission and vision as well as gearing up to impact any changes positively for patients and their members. We — and when I say “we” I mean “you” —need to be heard. To be heard, you need to be involved.
And so I leave you with a quote from Sean Connery, and the movie The Untouchables: "What are you prepared to do?"
Perhaps you also took time to write a list, if not physically, at least mentally. Share some of your thoughts and how you did with last year's resolutions.