For 50 years, AHRA’s annual meeting and exposition has become the place where imaging management comes to share ideas, best practices, explore new technology and help move the industry forward
The Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) celebrated its 50th anniversary July 10-13, 2022, in Phoenix. To mark this milestone, the association paged through the history of medical imaging’s journey, from Roentgen’s discovery of the X-ray through today’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to significantly improve image quality without having to increase radiation dose.
Clearly this journey has seen a lot of twists and turns, with COVID-19 being the latest fork in the road. However, alongside innovation came remote and virtual learning capabilities, and the challenges of the past two years were reimagined into new efficiencies that we can use today and well into the future. The pandemic marked yet another milestone to add to radiology’s long history of progress and innovation.
New This Year
New at AHRA 2022 was the Leaders of Choice Program sponsored by United Imaging and presented by David Waldron, CEO of Traction Business Development.
This new program, which kicked off with a half-day workshop on opening day of the annual meeting and was followed by nine webinars, will run for one full year. The program will culminate at AHRA 2023. It was designed to help prepare senior imaging professionals to be confident, next-level leaders, which are needed to manage the increasingly complex healthcare environment. According to the association, in addition to growing overall business skills, presentation skills and financial acumen, participants will be challenged to be bold thinkers, capable of changing the status quo and choosing the path forward for their organizations.
In a press announcement, Daniel Kelsey, AHRA's CEO, stated, "We are pleased to launch this transformative leadership program in collaboration with Traction Business Development and United Imaging, powerful forces for change in healthcare. The program aligns well with AHRA's mission and vision to be a driving force toward improving the healthcare environment. Providing AHRA leaders with programs like this, that help them advance and become the change agents that organizations need, is our top priority, and we're eager to kick it off at AHRA's 50th Annual Meeting."
Awards and Honors
Several prestigious awards were presented during this year’s conference. The AHRA 2022 President’s Award was given to Amy Imm, MD, who is the current director of physician support services for the Ohio Hospital Association. The award is given each year to the person who has had a significant impact in the life and professional development of the current president.
Bill Algee was presented the 2022 AHRA Jim Conway Gold Award. The Jim Conway Gold Award is the highest honor of AHRA, and is bestowed upon one of its members. The award is given to an AHRA member who has made significant contributions to the association and the profession of imaging and healthcare administration.
AHRA also announced Becky Allen as the new president elect of the organization. Becky Allen has been in Radiology for over 25 years and during this time I has been a technologist, manager, director and now Vice President of Operations, providing leadership to many divisions across an Academic Medical Center. Each position has taught valuable life lessons, including one of the most important, active listening. "Listen to understand, listen to show empathy, and listen to provide the right guidance are a few examples I use to guide my decision making," she said in a press statement.
Tackling Key Issues
Nearly everyone we spoke with on the show floor at AHRA 2022 mentioned staffing challenges, staff fatigue and ergonomics as being major concerns.
Carestream Health demonstrated ways that its imaging equipment strives improve radiographer workflow, helping to alleviate increased workloads and staff shortages at healthcare facilities.
Its DRX-Revolution Mobile X-ray System places an advanced set of features and tools directly at the technologist's fingertips to help streamline bedside workflow, boost productivity and enhance patient care. Jorge Quant, vice president, Americas strategy and marketing for Carestream, explained that this system helped disrupt the industry 10 years ago, but the company has not rested on its laurels and continues to look for ways to enhance ergonomic capabilities.
A few ways Carestream is doing this is through its Lux 35 Detector which is lightweight, ergonomically designed, glass-free and easier for radiographers to hold and position, putting less strain and stress on both the radiographer and the patient. The DRX-L Detector is a single-exposure long-length imaging (LLI) detector that provides a large field of view (17 x 51 inches) and high resolution to deliver superb-quality leg and spine exams, which is yet another time-saver for radiographers.
“As we start to move toward what we see the future as, we recognized the fact that there are staffing issues and staffing constraints, which is very important to our audience here, the radiologic administrators,” said Quant. “We started to incorporate features like what we have done with our complex system automation features for auto positioning, for instance. So, you start to have the machine not replace the job of the technologist but certainly start to have the machine and the technologies and the radiographer work together symbiotically to provide better care in a more efficient way. This allows you to have more patient throughput without having to significantly increase staff, which is really impossible nowadays,” added Quant.
Like most companies, Carestream needed to find a way to change its course during the pandemic, which it did through initiatives like virtual demoing, where either on-demand or live streaming demos could be done without having to disrupt the operations or having to have people fly from one place to another. “I think that one thing if anything we can thank the pandemic for is that the adoption of technology has increased, probably not by choice,” said Quant. “But what we have made sure that any changes that we make as a company from a design, marketing products standpoint, as a result, and what we learned with the pandemic, are not circumstantial, that they're truly transformational. We've changed as I think everyone has changed because of this. I think the future is hybrid, personally. From a marketing standpoint, even as we as we look into some of the traditional ways of marketing like trade shows, even door to door and physical demos, I think we're going to come out of this best of both worlds, leveraging technology where technology makes sense. But I think that we all miss the person to person as well, and I think that people are definitely going to be a little bit more selective about the time where that human interaction happens. Not only for safety, but productivity. But I think we're going to start to leverage more and more technologies that are available to us. I think that quite frankly, we were there before the pandemic, we just didn’t use it.”
Education played a key role at AHRA 2022, featuring four full days packed with sessions, with highlighted keynote presentations each day.
Natalie Stavas, MD, started the day on Monday, July 11, with her keynote presentation, Running Towards Chaos. As a farm girl from Nebraska, she was once told that people from Nebraska don’t do well in places like Boston—but she proved them wrong and was the first person from Nebraska to be accepted into the Harvard Pediatric Training program at Boston Children’s Hospital. One year after moving to Boston she received the Boston Foundation’s Change Maker award and in 2013 she received the Bostonian of The Year Award. This award is given to Bostonians who impact their community in a remarkable way.
Attendees learned that although counter intuitive, running toward chaos actually makes chaos more manageable; why humans are genetically predisposed to be selfless and how to incorporate that into everyday life; how internal chaos can paralyze us from achieving our full potential; and how to find meaning in the chaotic world that surrounds us.
Tuesday’s keynote speaker was Risha Grant, who spoke on Get Rid of the BS to Build an Inclusive Culture. Throughout the session, she allowed attendees to express their biases, while giving them easily applicable tools to get over them. She covered diversity, equity and inclusion; a thorough awareness of biases and realization of how they originated; recognition of the symptoms and results of bias; tools to address bias internally and externally; and the benefits of building a culture of inclusion.
The conference came to a close with Kenyon Salo’s presentation, The Bucket List Life—Create More Experiences, Share More Stories and Live More Fulfilled! He shared how his three simple concepts of living “The Bucket List Life” can help guide you to fulfillment on your life-long journey. Attendees got insight on how to create more experiences; share more stories; and live a more fulfilled life by helping others.
Other educational sessions focused on management, communication, staff engagement, business leadership, imaging informatics, creating an inclusive culture, regulatory and compliance, project management and more.
Be sure to mark your calendar for AHRA 2023, taking place July 9-12 in Indianapolis.