This year’s Fast 5, moderated by Sherry S. Wang, MBBS, FRANZCR, featured five different speakers reflecting on what “Redefining Radiology” means to them.
Tackling climate change from the reading room
Julia Schoen, MD, MS, discussed radiology’s sustainable future, noting that healthcare emits 10% of greenhouse gases in the US, making the industry one of the largest polluters in the country. From energy-intensive scanners to wasteful workflow practices and the proliferation of disposable supplies, radiology is a contributor to this pollution.
Dr. Schoen shared her suggestions for how radiologists can help mitigate these issues to ultimately address climate change – all from the reading room.
She said the industry can make strides to reduce carbon emissions through more eco-conscious practices. To help promote this concept, she helped establish Radiologists for a Sustainable Future last year and invited her colleagues to join her on a mission to make radiology more sustainable.
“We currently have efforts in education, advocacy and research, but there's a lot of work to be done. And we'd love for you to join us if this is an issue that you're passionate about. No one is going to solve this crisis for us, so let's not sit in the dark while it unfolds around us,” she said.
Addressing Imaging Inequality at the Frontline: A Free Imaging Clinic Model for the Underserved
When Charlotte Yuk-Yan Chung, MD, PhD, was a resident at Emory Radiology, she reimagined radiology by taking a cue from the free medical clinic movement. She and her team at Emory established ethne health, a free imaging clinic that helps address minorities’ and immigrants’ ability to access medical imaging services.
Dr. Chung and her colleagues established the clinic under the Georgia Volunteer Health Care Program in Clarkston, a city outside Atlanta called the “Ellis Island of the South.” Over the last year, volunteer medical students and technologists have provided free ultrasound exams to patients who otherwise would not have had access to this care.
“I hope this demonstrates how one radiologist’s vision for a free imaging clinic can be accomplished in collaboration with local clinic partners and institution teamwork,” said Dr. Chung, who is now a neuroradiology fellow at New York University. “I invite you – and challenge you – to follow our example and propagate the free imaging clinic model in your local community so that together we can eliminate imaging inequality.
The Millennial Transformation of Radiology
In his role as radiology residency director at UT Health San Antonio, Angel Gomez-Cintron, MD, MPH, has been challenged to balance the generational differences between established faculty and younger Millennial residents, who are often chastised for their desire to create work-life balance.
After a group of younger residents complained to him about their workload, he dug into the data and discovered something surprising: today’s residents are reading four times as many studies as what he read as a resident nearly 20 years ago. Now he believes Millennials have a unique perspective that could improve work-life balance for all radiologists.
“I've learned that there is great power in understanding what we deserve and being able to set clear boundaries for the benefit of ourselves and the ones we serve. I've come to embrace this new generation with so much hope,” said Gomez-Cintron. “I'm not a Millennial, but I trust them with the future of our profession. And most importantly, I trust them with my own medical care and the medical care of those that I love the most.”
Embracing AI for Mitigating Health Disparities
While AI and deep learning tools have the potential to transform radiology today, the diversity of data used to train those solutions could limit how far AI will take us. Noushin Yahyavi-Firouz-Abadi, MD, advocates for AI products that are trained on diverse samples across demographics, including gender, age, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, zip code, and insurance status.
“We need to make sure the AI product that you're buying or creating is fair, is trained on a diverse data set, and uses anti-biased algorithms. These tools need to be trained on demographics that are representative of the population they serve. The data sets also need to be having balanced disease labels. In addition, we need to make sure that we use anti-biased algorithms that can account for the imbalance that exists in the data,” said Dr. Yahyavi, assistant professor of radiology at the John Hopkins University in Maryland and an MBA candidate at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
Supporting Family/Medical Leave: Where Are We, Where Do We Go From Here?
Elizabeth Dibble, MD, addressed family and medical leave, a far-reaching issue she says should be categorized beyond a women’s issue.
Dr. Dibble, an assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, noted there’s increased awareness of the importance of family and medical leave, as well as family-friendly policies in radiology. She said these advancements are critical, as many people don’t qualify for a leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
“We shouldn't rely on federal law to dictate policy. We have to ensure that our groups have great policies in place,” she said.
She defined a great policy as being equal for all physicians in the practice, meaning that all new parents, people with illness, and people caring for ill family members are eligible. Second, it allows for adequate time away, which is a minimum of 12 weeks separate from vacation time. Finally, it should be easy to understand and use for all employees.
“A small investment in adequate leave policies promotes equity and wellness among your colleagues. Let's create a better future for ourselves, our colleagues and the next generation of radiologists and their families. You all join me in helping to redefine radiology by supporting family medical leave,” she concluded.
See the recorded presentation at https://rsna2021.rsna.org/live-stream/23143256/Fast-5.
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Fast 5 Speakers Discuss Their Perspectives on “Redefining Radiology”. Appl Radiol.
McKenna Bryant is a freelance healthcare writer based in Nashotah, WI.