Dr. Richard Baron

Q&A with Dr. Richard Baron, RSNA president

November 16, 2016
by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor
HealthCare Business News reached out to current RSNA President Dr. Richard Baron to learn about his background, his goals for the association and the overall direction the RSNA, and the specialty as a whole, is taking.

HCB News: What inspired you to get involved in health care?

RB: My earliest foray into health care came when I worked for a year in 1969 as a volunteer aide in a remote hospital in Ghana. Seeing the impact that even the simplest and most rudimentary health care facilities could have on the community was thrilling and engaging, and upon my return to the U.S. in 1970, I committed to preparing for a career in medicine.

HCB News: What inspired you to pursue a leadership role with the RSNA?
My involvement with RSNA has been an invaluable component of my medical career. In addition to providing the educational and professional resources necessary to excel in my field, my RSNA affiliation has allowed me to meet and interact with colleagues around the world, fostering lifelong relationships that have been invaluable to me. As the RSNA is the premier society for radiology research and education, a leadership position with such an organization provides extraordinary opportunities to help shape the practice of radiology, to forge global connections with allied health professionals and to lay the groundwork for the future of the specialty.

HCB News: Which initiatives are you championing for the association?
Supporting research ensures that imaging continues to play a critical role in detection, diagnosis and treatment. RSNA assists young investigators in bringing their ideas to fruition through its annual meeting, its peer-reviewed journals and the efforts of the RSNA Research and Education Foundation. This year alone, the R&E Foundation will fund 101 grants totaling $4 million. That’s the highest amount ever awarded by the Foundation. RSNA also will continue to engage in important collaborations with other societies. We have recently partnered with the American Society of Neuroradiology to present a new comparative effectiveness training program, and we continue to foster increased engagement and activities with our international members and many international radiology organizations.

HCB News: Can you talk about some of the main requests from members?
RSNA’s 54,000 members around the world desire easy access to a diverse selection of education opportunities, availability of funding to continue their research and education and opportunities to network with imaging leaders. What is really wonderful to hear from members worldwide is their frequent request to be able to serve the RSNA through the many activities the RSNA sponsors. We try our best to have as broad and representative participation as possible from our members in all of our activities.

HCB News: What are the biggest challenges facing the association today?
RSNA’s top priority is attending to the needs of its members. As advanced digital technology becomes increasingly integrated into educational and professional programs, we are expanding our technology capabilities to provide our members optimal access to the content they need in the formats they want. RSNA provides members with unparalleled educational content, global collaboration opportunities, peer-reviewed research and information technology offerings that will allow them to remain successful in their specialties. The challenge is to transform this relevant material into easily accessible, real-time information. We are embarking on a five-year priority process to make this a reality.

HCB News: What are the main challenges facing radiology today?
The greatest challenge is the transition from a volume-based to a value-based model of practice. Campaigns such as RSNA’s Radiology Cares and ACR’s Imaging 3.0 offer a wealth of education and tools to assist radiologists in transitioning to a robust, patient-centered imaging practice. Most radiologists have grasped the concept of creating a receptive atmosphere, communicating with patients and providing timely reports. However, the concept of patient-centeredness must extend beyond direct patient interaction to improved communications with referring physicians, technologists and other members of the patient’s health care team. The patient experience will be optimized if the entire team works together in a positive environment of mutual respect.

HCB News: What are the untapped or underutilized opportunities for both the association and the specialty?
Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. It is crucial that RSNA and radiology as a whole continue to stay abreast of new developments in information technology and explore how these advances can be utilized to improve efficiency in clinical practice. In addition, we must extend the patient-centered practice model into the research frontier, combining disciplines to develop far reaching multicenter prospective trials to improve patient outcomes across populations.

HCB News: With the annual conference fast approaching, can you tell us about the events you’re most looking forward to?
The theme for RSNA 2016 is “Beyond Imaging,” and it addresses the shifting paradigm in our specialty, and how we, as radiologists, must gain a broader perspective on the patient experience. We will also look at the impact of digital medicine on radiology and address critical topics, such as precision medicine, big data and machine learning. The “Country Presents” sessions highlight new and exciting research from around the world. This year’s featured countries are The Netherlands and Turkey.

I’m particularly looking forward to the International Liver Symposium — a full day of sessions devoted to liver imaging, with faculty representing a multitude of the world’s leading experts covering key, up-to-date issues. Liver imaging has become a topic of global importance in medicine. Radiologists play a critical role in determining patient treatments and outcomes. It is imperative that we stay current on advancements in detection, staging and characterization of liver cancer.

I encourage attendees to visit the new RSNA Connections Center for additional educational, informational and social experiences. The McCormick Place Lakeside Ballroom will be transformed to include more interactive spaces and lounge areas for recharging — both themselves and their devices. As RSNA president, I’m also looking forward to welcoming attendees to my hometown of Chicago. I feel a great sense of pride in the world-class experiences and accommodations this beautiful city has to offer. I could not ask for a more perfect backdrop for what is sure to be another stellar RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting.

HCB News: How do you predict radiology will change in the next decade?
We are seeing a strong trend toward subspecialty medicine, and radiologists must vigilantly pursue meaningful continuing education to ensure proficiency at the subspecialty level. Also, in the face of rapid technological advancements, there is a danger of radiologists becoming more isolated.