RSNA13: Big meeting, big data and big patient emphasis collide

Both exhausted and invigorated, I head home from another annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). That paradox is well known to many of us. RSNA is the week we catch up with old friends, meet new ones, lament over the profession's many challenges, and brainstorm about the future. For some, RSNA is a glass half empty experience. For others, it's glass half full. And, for a select and visionary few, it's about finding ways to be the ones pouring the water.

RSNA remains a toy store window for those of us who regularly play--and dream--in the world of emerging technology. Historically, the first focus of the meeting for many, though, has been about what that technology can do for us. ROI, pro formas, and market share have been the buzz words of years past. Patients, sadly, have too often been a second thought. But that is changing.

Don't get me wrong. The new technology is definitely still there at RSNA. The toy store gets cooler and cooler each year. Imaging technology continues to grow, and information technology is growing even more quickly. But, the message and context are changing. The big buzz word this year is value. Folks are asking themselves how that technology  can help them become  more relevant--to their patients, to their health systems, and to our society. Informatics and business analytics are taking center stage as the way to make that happen.

Healthcare is undergoing a dramatic transformation from a system that incentivizes volume to one that incentivizes value. For radiology, that means we need to look beyond the worklist, and become more integrated and more patient focused. That message is taking root and growing, and this year's RSNA meeting has been great fertilizer.

The theme I write about is that of Imaging 3.0. It's been branded by the American College of Radiology, but being promoted much more organically by so many imaging stakeholders on their own. It will require a huge cultural shift for the profession--from doing things to patients to one of doing things for patients. It's just one word, but it's the difference between commoditization and relevance.

Next year marks the 100th annual meeting of the RSNA. My prediction: the focus as we begin the next century will be more about patients and less about technology. As healthcare professionals, that focus--if we embrace it--will always serve us well. But, more importantly, it will serve our patients even better.

Richard Duszak, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer of the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute, Incoming Vice Chair for Health Policy and Practice in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, and a Member of FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board. Follow him on Twitter at @RichDuszak.


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