Tennessee Radiological Society
TRS President Article
I hate to write. Term papers were always the most onerous part of any course that I took. I don't really like to speak -- if speaking means standing in front of a group with information going in one direction. I do like to talk (some, hopefully not all, of my friends would say too much) as in a bi-directional interactive conversation. Unfortunately, I can't talk to 600 plus members at once. So like standing on the edge of a cold pool -- splash!-- let's write.
As incoming president of the Tennessee Radiological Society (TRS), I want to introduce myself and relay some news about what is happening in the TRS and American College of Radiology (ACR). This is an exciting time in medicine - as in "YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE" exciting! Now that's exciting. It seems that the practice of radiology is under assault from all directions: legislators, payers, administrators, insurance companies, etc. For this reason, more than ever is it important to understand what TRS/ACR does for you. I believe that the more you know about what is happening, the more comfortable, energetic, and hopefully more active you will be in supporting TRS/ACR. I anticipate asking others to write specific articles on various topics during the year and invite any member wishing to contribute to our newsletter to contact me.
What is TRS and why should I join? What is the ACR and why should I join? What, if anything, do I get from joining? Is there any value in being a member? Most of us have asked these or similar questions at some point. Many of us became members almost automagically (I know it is not a real word) after residencies and at some point realized that you were spending real money to be a member. Since you are reading this newsletter, you decided to continue -- Thank You. Some decided not to continue and dropped out. If some of these are your friends, partners, or colleagues, please read on and perhaps share your or my thoughts with them.
The TRS is a state chapter of ACR, and TRS membership is required for ACR membership. The ACR does not exist in a vacuum; it is composed of its chapters. As a national organization, the ACR is not made up of radiologist that live in Washington, DC or in Reston, VA. It is not made up of some uber mythical radiologist that lives and works in some unknown far away place. It is made up of 31,000 normal, working, everyday radiologists that live in places like Clarksville, Bristol, Selmer, Memphis, Chattanooga, etc. In other words, it is made up of people amazingly like us because -- it is us. Without the TRS and all the other chapters, there would be no ACR. Vibrant living chapters give a vibrant living ACR. Without the TRS, there would be no "us" to participate in ACR activities on national issues. If this were all we got for joining the TRS, it would probably be enough. However, the TRS, as the state chapter, largely mirrors the ACR's national activities in our local i.e. Tennessee.
The ACR has four pillars upon which it is built:
1) Advocacy, 2) Education, 3) Research, 4) Quality and Safety
Each of these would require multiple articles to attempt to understand or demonstrate the direct benefits to us as members. At the state level, we also have ongoing activities in advocacy, education, and quailty and safety. To a lesser extent, we also support resident activities in research.
TRS activities in advocacy have both a legislative and economic branch. The TRS, largely through the volunteer efforts of Daniel Starnes MD FACR, has for many years interacted with the state legislature. Tenncare and Worker's Compensation have impacted each of our practices and we have directly benefited from these activities. Self-referral, tort reform, licensing and radiological assistants are just some of the many activities that require oversight and input. We have regular contact with the PAC lobbyist and encourage any and all members to participate in advocating with your local officials and candidates and to join the radiology PAC.
The economic advocacy also has two branches. The governmental branch interacts with our local Medicare Administrative Contractor, currently Cahaba. This is done primarily through the Carrier Advisory Committee (CAC) structure. Radiology is one of the named representatives to teh CAC. If there were not TRS, we would not have the structure to appoint a radiologist representative. The managed care branch meets with large payors such as BC/BS and Cigna to address coverage or procedural issues. Certainly "Radiology Benefit Manager" issues have received attention by this committee.
TRS hosts an educational meeting annually in conjunction with our annual business meeting. Under the leadership of Frank Eggers MD FACR, and more recently, Jeff Creasy MD FACR, this meeting has been recognized and recieved the ACR national award for excellence. If you have not had the chance to attend this, I encouage your participation. The joint component with SVMIC, arranged by the TRS, with radiology-specific information is, in my opinion, much better than the general seminars given by SVMIC. A design feature of the meeting was to allow an attending radiologist to fulfill the MQSA requirements. Feedback on this issue would be helpful. The meeting is not a moneymaker for the TRS and, in fact, generally runs a deficit. However, it is part of the TRS mission and I believe a valuable service to our members.
TRS has been active in commenting and interfacing with regulatory agencies such as the Bureau of Radiologic Health to ensure the development and enforcement of reasonable policies and guidelines.
I could go on for many more pages in describing what I believe are valuable services that you and I receive as members of the TRS/ACR. As noted above, some of my friends would say I talk too much, so I won't. Suffice it to say, at this time, that I think the TRS is a worthwhile investment of your money and time.
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something." I think this statement can be our secret formula to success. I encourage each of us to do what may be the most important thing to advance our practice of medicine--Be the kind, knowledgeable face of radiology to our patients! We are a patient focused specialty. Patients need to know this as well as know us.
I look forward to further dialog and discussions. Feel free to contact me by email at email@example.com.
Frank Parks MD FACR