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Q&A with AHRA president Chris Tomlinson

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | July 10, 2020
From the July 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The other thing that we looked at prior to COVID: when you think of professional associations, they’re being forced to evolve quickly. Twenty years ago, it was about going to meetings, collaborating, and social interactions in person. While that’s all still important, it’s kind of shifted to members not necessarily wanting to travel and go to a big meeting. They want to interact with content and want to interact with it on their terms. We have our online forum where questions are asked, people seek information, they post about things they need help with and have other members assist as resources. For example, we just had a COVID webinar where people were able to share experiences and best practices — cleaning mechanisms, cohorting their patients in waiting rooms — to me that’s the core of what an association is about. It’s about bringing people together and being an indispensable resource for them to help them to be the best they can be in their careers. That’s what drives us.

HCB News: How has the association work changed since the pandemic?
CT: We’re constantly measuring ourselves as an association based on our members’ interaction — how many times they’re utilizing us, how many times they’re accessing our tools. What we’ve learned — through our online presence in terms of members using our tools or using our COVID-specific resources, logging on to our Q & A webinars detailing how imaging leaders are dealing with this challenge, especially in the hot zones — is how often members access us. What I’m happy with as an association is that we’ve pivoted and we’re going to be that indispensable resource for our members. We’ve even talked about changes to books; we’ve traditionally used text books. What about doing audiobooks? What if we create YouTube how-to videos? The COVID pandemic has opened the conversation.

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HCB News: How has the pandemic changed work situations for your members?
CT: In terms of leadership, they were asked to gather information very quickly, put it into practice and protect and emotionally support employees. As far as work starting to happen now, we have kind of the second wave of problems. There are some patients getting back to the hospital after delaying care and their conditions may have gotten worse during that time, you’re seeing others who may still be afraid to come back to the hospital, and you’re seeing a third group that has lost their insurance or job and now can’t afford care. So as imaging leaders, we’re very concerned about the second wave of patients. That all leads to a third challenge. As you’re trying to ramp back up safely, you’re looking at financial devastation in a lot of the health systems because of all the revenue lost over the last few months. How are you going to manage staff needs? Will people need to be furloughed? How do we handle the reason we all got into healthcare — to provide the best care for patients? And during this all, it’s important to keep in mind self-care. This is not something that will pass quickly. Leaders need to tap out when they need a break and let their teams manage the work when they need to recharge.

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