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Q&A with SNMMI president-elect Richard Wahl

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 11, 2021
Molecular Imaging
From the June 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Having enough positions and training slots is an issue as well. There are more medical students graduating than there are matching spots.

Obviously, all the interesting things happening in nuclear medicine that will improve patient care — all those things were possible because there was continued investment in research and increased investment in innovation.

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HCB News: How has the pandemic impacted nuclear medicine?
RW: I think most places, certainly ours, during the first peak of the pandemic a little over a year ago, had declines of 60% to maybe 80% of their nuclear medicine volume. That impacted the economics, but it also impacted our training, because you need cases to train people. Since then, our institution has come back to where we were, or even increased for a bit because there was some pent-up demand. Certainly, I’d say the pandemic spurred us to do more teleradiology, telenuclear medicine, and I think some of those changes are here to stay. From a patient consult standpoint, I think we’re doing more virtual visits as opposed to in-person. Again, I think those are lasting changes.

In some niche areas like lung imaging, there was some concern, if you’re dealing with patients and you don’t know if they have COVID, that led to some specific recommendations regarding those procedures.

HCB News: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s meeting?
RW: I think there’s going to be a lot of optimism. There’s quite a bit of excitement about the progress being made in this field. I’m looking forward to a lot of the scientific sessions presenting the data as our diagnostic and therapeutic procedures mature. The reality is, many of the medical schools doing research were really slowed down over the past year. We couldn’t put people on clinical trials for probably six months, maybe longer, so it’ll be interesting to see how the science looks and if there was any visible impact on science.

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