Residents can serve a vital role in educating Congress, the medical community, and the general public regarding the efficacy of cutting-edge technologies like CT colonography (CTC) as well as the importance of radiologists' training and education and the role that radiologists serve in the provision of quality health care, according to an article published in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).
"Decisions made in Washington often seem beyond our control, especially as residents," said Ainsley V. MacLean, M.D., resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and author of the article. "However, my brief experience in government relations has taught me that members of Congress do listen to our opinions, which they perceive as coming from the frontlines of the health care system," she said.
"There are several things residents can do to help," said MacLean. Residents are urged to write and call members of Congress, urging them to support upcoming legislation in favor of Medicare coverage of CTC. They are encouraged to stay up-to-date on the latest information surrounding CTC Medicare coverage and become proficient at how to perform and interpret CTC during the residency period. "Residents should also try to introduce themselves to five patients a day so they know the radiologist and physician imaging expert who is interpreting their CTC and other studies," said MacLean.
"CTC has many advantages over optical colonoscopy. Yet today, screening CTC for the most part is only covered by select private health insurance companies, further polarizing our health care system into the 'haves and have-nots,'" she said.
"If we as residents do not become future leaders in this technology we risk losing it. We are the face and the future of radiology, and it is time to speak up. The cost of inaction is far too great," said MacLean.
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The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 32,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of radiology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.